Teammates, Coaches Expect Greatness of WVU's Smith - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

Teammates, Coaches Expect Greatness of WVU's Smith


Accomplishments, statistics and records make headlines for the senior quarterback each week. Geno Smith's efficiency in an offense that plays to his strengths almost makes the major achievements seem simple.

It has gotten to the point where not only are Dana Holgorsen and Smith's teammates expecting greatness from their quarterback, but the fans and the media have been drawn in as well.

On Saturday, Smith totaled 411 yards and five touchdowns through the air and along the way, he passed former WVU quarterback Marc Bulger for the top spot on the program's all-time passing list. The senior has thrown for more yards than any other passer in school history.

And yet, it almost seemed like another day, another fallen record.

Smith's 8,191 career passing yards are outstanding, but also just a start. If his current pace could somehow keep up throughout the rest of the season, he would finish his time as a Mountaineer with over 12,000 yards.

That mark, and maintaining the numbers he sports through two games against Marshall and James Madison, is more easily spoken of than actually attained. And yet, the people who surround him on a daily basis say they believe those are precisely the sort of goals he can achieve.

"We talk a lot before the games and just talk about going out and having a great game and that's something that we expect out of ourselves," says Stedman Bailey, the teammate who knows Smith better than any other on the roster. "I expect Geno to have a big game just about every time we step on the field."

It is easy to watch Smith's command of a game and realize where that confidence comes from.

Looking at the man behind center, he stands calmly awaiting the snap while scanning what the defenders will send his way. He sends signals to his receivers, his blockers and his rushers to sort out the best counter attack to what he sees and he has the staff's trust as he does so.

"Most people's heads will be spinning the first year in the offense, but now he sees everything, he knows the calls, he knows what Dana's thinking and we're not throwing any curve balls at him like we did last year at times," says Smith's position coach, Jake Spavital.

Smith points to his teammates for much of the credit that comes his way. In game one, seven different receivers caught passes. In game two, nine did. The weapons at his disposal, and the willingness to split reps with other playmakers, are what Smith will tell you make the offense go.

"That's the good thing about this offense," Smith says. "It's not a selfish offense, there are no key players we're trying to get the ball to, it's just about making good reads and putting the ball in play and the guys are making good plays themselves."

And there is no clearer indication of Smith's excitement when watching his teammates make those plays than simply focusing on the quarterback after a touchdown. He jumps, he pounds his chest, he celebrates with the players on the field before skipping to the sideline to celebrate with those looking on from the bench.

After one score on Saturday, Holgorsen reeled Smith in as he galloped to the sideline and with one arm around his quarterback, he smiled, looking up at a replay of the touchdown on the video board in the end zone. He looked downright smitten with the play and with the work of the player to his right.

Whatever he told Smith, it likely wasn't anything short of praise.

On the same night as West Virginia slashed through an FCS opponent, Southern California was faltering against a Pac 12 conference foe. Behind center in that game was Matt Barkley, the perceived Heisman Trophy frontrunner up to that point.

The way that award is given these days, one poor performance is typically the end of a player's campaign. Barkley drops and while Smith will not be the unanimous choice at this point, he will have moved to the top of many watch lists.

His teammates are certainly pulling for him to reel in college football's top individual honor.

"When Geno's eating like that, we're definitely eating too," said one of Smith's favorite targets, Tavon Austin. "I hope Geno definitely gets it. Everybody on the whole team will get a piece of it at the end of the day."

There is plenty of time for the numbers to fall and the accolades to dissipate, but right now, there is no sign of it. 

Smith has a level head that, throughout his career, has never let him lose touch with reality. It allows him to live in the moment, not looking back on what just happened or ahead to what lies next.

"Nothing fazes the kid," Spavital said. "He never gets too high, never gets too low. He just loves playing the game."

With a strong start to the season and a viewing area that spreads throughout the nation due to WVU's unique position as an eastern team playing conference games in the southwest, there will be more eyes on Smith this year than ever before.

As much as he loves playing the game, if Smith can keep up his current display, college football fans will love watching him just as much.

"Ultimately, it's going to be how we finish," Holgorsen says of Smith's legacy. "It's going to be how many games we win, which is what he's going to be remembered for."

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