The Times West Virginian

Sports

April 30, 2013

Manuel one-ups Smith once again

MORGANTOWN — It came like a linebacker blitzing from the blind side, unseen yet dangerous.

It was Thursday night at Radio City Music Hall, first round of the NFL draft, and Geno Smith was sitting there in the Green Room, decked out in the suit he’d picked out to wear for what would be the happiest moment in his life.

Buffalo was about to announce its pick and everyone in the building — no, in New York City itself — seemed to know that if the Bills were going to take a quarterback, it would be Geno Smith of West Virginia University.

The words came out almost in slow motion ... “Thheee BBufffallloo BBiiiillls ...”

Geno Smith probably looked to see if there were any wrinkles in that suit of his, maybe sat up just a little bit straighter for the TV cameras as the pick came out.

“... ssselllecccttt EJ Manuel of Florida State.”

EJ Manuel?

No one had him anywhere near the first quarterback being drafted. No one.

Except Buffalo.

Manuel headed for the stage. Later he would remember the moment, about how someone came up and intercepted him with congratulations.

“Geno was one of the first guys who came over to me and gave me a hug. That definitely says a lot about Geno’s character,” Manuel said later that night when being interviewed. “Whatever team gets him, I’m looking forward to it.”

He would have to wait until the next night to see who got him.

oooooo

That was not the first time EJ Manuel had done in Geno Smith.

No one was thinking of it at the moment, so scrambled was everyone’s brain from the shock of the choice by Buffalo, but Manuel had ruined Geno Smith’s first moment on college football’s big stage.

Again, it was unexpected.

It was the Gator Bowl after the 2009 season, Florida State against West Virginia.

Fate found a way to pit one quarterback against the other.

The central theme of the team, of course, was Bobby Bowden’s final game coaching a college football team. He had won 388 games entering this final game, battled Joe Paterno of Penn State to go out the winningest coach in college football.

Now, this former WVU coach was being pushed out the door so another West Virginia guy, Jimbo Fisher, a state native, could take over at Florida State. Bowden had lost his magic, was just 6-6 as he went into this final game of his career, needing to win it to put together his 33rd consecutive winning season.

His quarterback was supposed to be a fellow named Christian Ponder, who had amassed more than 4,400 career passing yards before injuring his shoulder, forcing Bowden to go to a freshman quarterback starting with the Wake Forest game.

That freshman was EJ Manuel, and in that first game he completed 15 of 20 passes for 200 yards against the Demon Deacons.

Geno Smith was on the West Virginia roster, the backup quarterback to Jarrett Brown, the heir apparent.

He had made his college debut in a difficult situation, against Auburn on Sept. 19, 2009, and completed 5 of 8 passes for 50 yards but threw an interception, and his first snap had been a fumble that resulted in a 2-yard loss.

His best moment of the year had come on Oct. 17 in a 24-7 victory over Marshall, running six times for 17 yards and throwing 21 times, completing 15 of them for 147 yards and his first collegiate touchdown, that of 33 yards to Alric Arnett after starter Jarrett Brown had been knocked out of the game with an injury.

In this game Smith showed his ability to make big plays in the clutch for the first time. Coach Bill Stewart, trailing 7-3, decided to pass up a 44-yard field goal attempt and go for it on fourth-and-10, Smith being flushed out of the pocket, stumbling and somehow managing to complete a 13-yard pass to Jock Sanders in the middle of the field.

Shortly after that Noel Devine broke loose for a 14-yard TD and WVU led.

But that was Marshall, and Smith had thrown only one pass in between that October game and the Gator Bowl, thinking he would not even see action.

Then came a horrifying moment near the end of the first half, Jarrett Brown under pressure by Florida State and being sacked, coming up with a shoulder injury.

“I heard something pop,” Brown said.

Brown looked at the injury in the locker room, iced it, but soon realized that he would have to turn the ball and the game over to Smith, setting up the situation where you had a coach with 388 victories against a quarterback who at that time a year earlier was playing in a high school all-star game.

It was no contest.

Smith was used cautiously against a savage defense, completing 8 of 15 for 92 yards. He carried the ball 10 times but wound up with -8 rushing yards, sacked three times.

Manuel?

He was the game’s MVP, completing 17 of 24 passes for 189 yards and rushing for 70 more and a touchdown on 14 rushes.

Text Only
Sports
  • Big ‘I’ golf coming to Pete Dye

    The Trusted Choice Big “I” National Championship will make its first trip to West Virginia when Pete Dye Golf Club hosts the 46th annual installment of the event Aug. 5-8.

    July 29, 2014

  • Charges against Smallwood dropped

    West Virginia University running back Wendell Smallwood took to Twitter mid-afternoon Tuesday to express his feelings after charges of witness intimidation against him were dropped by the state of Delaware.

    July 29, 2014

  • Return to Mountain State exciting for new sports writer

    When I packed my belongings out of my Morgantown apartment in May, fresh with a journalism degree from West Virginia University, I thought I had ended a chapter of my life and closed the book on my experience inside the great Mountain State forever.
    It wasn’t until I received a phone call back in my hometown of Canton, Ohio, from the Times West Virginian that the idea of a return to the area became a possibility. The opportunity to begin my professional career in an area that I’ve become comfortable with for the past several years was too good to pass by.

    July 29, 2014

  • Black Diamond.jpg Black Diamond Express looking to add elite players

     Travel sports are said to be the cream of the crop for young athletes.
    Generally, youth are selected to play on travel league teams based upon a heightened skill level or an ability that exceeds the everyday athlete.
    That’s what the Black Diamond Express softball team in Morgantown is looking for, along with a few new elite players.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Steelers’ Spence caps lengthy comeback

    The whistle blew and Sean Spence sprinted forward, each cathartic step distancing the linebacker from the horrific knee injury that threatened to end his NFL career before it even really began.

    July 28, 2014

  • All tickets claimed for LeBron’s homecoming show

    LeBron James’ Ohio hometown says fans quickly claimed the thousands of tickets available for the homecoming event expected to be his first public appearance in the state since announcing his return to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

    July 28, 2014

  • FSU to hold Falcon Fantasy Camp

    Ever want to be a college football coach? Now you’ll have your chance thanks to Fairmont State University’s Falcon Fantasy Camp.

    July 28, 2014

  • Lawyer: Wife plotted to take over Sterling trust

    A lawyer argued Monday that the estranged wife of Donald Sterling plotted to strip his client from the family trust that owned the Los Angeles Clippers after the head of the NBA said she couldn’t negotiate a sale of the franchise unless she owned all the shares.

    July 28, 2014

  • Were Bowlsby’s fears about college athletics’ future justified?

    I have never met or even talked to Bob Bowlsby, commissioner of the Big 12 Conference.
    But I did read a lengthy story on his 45-minute address to reporters last week on Media Day in Dallas, Texas. Among other things, Bowlsby forecast a startling change threatening the existence of intercollegiate athletics as we have known for these many, many years.

    July 28, 2014

  • Steelers’ Wheaton eyeing chance after tough rookie year

    Markus Wheaton realizes the pressure is there, but he doesn’t mind.

    July 28, 2014

Featured Ads
NDN Sports
House Ads
NCAA Breaking News
NCAA Photos