The Times West Virginian

Sports

October 22, 2012

HERTZEL COLUMN-Smith takes blame, vows to right ship

MORGANTOWN — This past week Felix Baumgartner jumped off a ledge on a hot air balloon from an altitude of 128,100 feet above Earth and went into a free fall that hit speeds of Mach 1.4 before he landed on his feet in New Mexico.

West Virginia knows how he felt, finding themselves caught off a free fall of nearly that magnitude with consecutive losses to Texas Tech and No. 4 Kansas State by a combined score of 104-28, dropping them from No. 5 in the country to No. 23 and 25, actually surprising most observers that they remained ranked at all.

You might say, because of that, they landed on their feet, too.

Playing the role of Baumgartner is Geno Smith, who until those two defeats was the leading candidate to spend a December evening in New York City picking up some hardware named after John Heisman.

After the season’s fifth game, Smith was completing 81.4 percent of his 204 passes, 24 of them for touchdowns without an interception. In the two games since he has completed but 58 percent of his passes for 421 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions.

In the latest loss to Kansas State, Smith’s long completion was for just 13 yards, even with the likes of Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey as receivers.

It is baffling, even as head coach Dana Holgorsen maintains that he has not forgotten how to coach offense, that this cropped up on someone as talented and dedicated as Smith, a player who went through five games without so much as a smear on his record.

Smith is equally perplexed but he is handling it as he has handled everything since he walked onto the Evansdale campus as a freshman out of Miramar High in Florida — with class, sharing the success he achieved with teammates and taking the blame for the problems that currently are plaguing the Mountaineers.

“This is one of those things where we have reached our low. This is as low as it gets,” he said. “I have never dealt with an adversity of this magnitude. I have never lost two games in this manner. I have to do a better job of being a leader, stepping up and getting guys to respond.

“I am going to do that. I am going to dig deep. I have to look at myself in the mirror and just figure out ways to get better.”

The post-game soliloquy was “I ... I ... I” whereas when things were going well it was “We ... We ... We.”

Smith had gotten credit when things were going right and he would accept the blame when things turned sour.

“Two interceptions and putting the ball on the ground — that’s three things that cost the team,” he said. “I can only point the finger at myself because of that. I can control that.

“I have to do a better job of putting the ball in a place that is catchable. Kansas State did a good job of rallying to the ball. They played extremely hard, but that is not an excuse.”

The words rang true as Smith spoke them and somehow, at a time when he was talking about having reached an all-time low, he was standing quite high by accepting responsibility and vowing to find a way to lead his team back to the heights it had reached earlier in the season.

True, the pressure had to be building on Smith, knowing that every time he took the field he had to find a way to manufacture at least five touchdowns. In fact, five touchdowns would have been enough to win only three games this season, one of them by a single point.

That plus the fact that this off-week might just arrive at a great moment, for with as many passes as Smith has thrown it is not inconceivable that he might be playing with a tired arm that could use some time off to recover.

Email Bob Hertzel at bhertzel@hotmail.com or follow him on Twitter @bhertzel.

1
Text Only
Sports
  • NMHS #14 hit.jpg North Marion goes 2-for-2; Fairmont Senior 0-for-2 in tournament

    A day after an 11-0 mercy-rule victory at Philip Barbour, the North Marion Huskies were at it again.
    Chelsi Latocha threw three no-hit innings, Shelby King drove in five runs in the first inning and the Huskies rolled to a 20-0 victory over the winless Fairmont Senior Polar Bears in the Diamond Dawg Tournament at North Marion High School.

    April 19, 2014 6 Photos

  • Brewers’ Lohse beats Pirates again

    Kyle Lohse pitched effectively into the seventh inning, Carlos Gomez homered and the Milwaukee Brewers beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 5-3 Friday night.
    Lohse (3-1) improved to 11-2 in his career against the Pirates, allowing one earned run in a win against them for the second time in six days.

    April 19, 2014

  • Bucs trade for Mets’ Ike Davis

    The New York Mets traded slumping first baseman Ike Davis to the Pittsburgh Pirates on Friday night, parting ways with a power hitter who proved to be too inconsistent at the plate.
    Pittsburgh sent minor league right-hander Zack Thornton and a player to be named to New York for the 27-year-old Davis.

    April 19, 2014

  • Penguins wary of Blue Jackets after Game 1 escape

    Sidney Crosby is used to the attention. It comes with the territory when you’re the best hockey player in the world.
    Still, the Pittsburgh Penguins star knows the spotlight becomes more acute in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

    April 19, 2014

  • Tori Postlewait front.jpg East’s Postlewait, North’s Latocha toss no-hitters

    Tori Postlewait made a deal with her great-uncle, Kenny Carpenter, before her freshman season.
    If the Bees’ pitcher tossed a no-hitter, Carpenter promised to give her $20.
    Well, it took four years, but it’s finally time for Postlewait’s great-uncle to pay up.

    April 18, 2014 2 Photos

  • East tennis splits with Polar Bears

    Fairmont Senior and East Fairmont split a pair of tennis matches Thursday, with Fairmont Senior winning the boys’ match and East Fairmont taking the girls’ competition.
    In the Bees’ 6-1 girls’ victory, Cara Laswell took second singles, 8-2. Erica Gorman won third singles, 8-1. And Carrington Reese won fourth singles, 8-3.

    April 18, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Under pressure, NCAA decides to change rules

    At first glance, it appears that they do not go hand-in-hand, a pair of rules changes the NCAA’s Legislative Council approved this week, sending them off for what seems to be smooth sailing toward becoming rules.

    April 18, 2014

  • McCutchen, Alvarez lead Pirates over Brewers

    Andrew McCutchen hit his first homer of the season and drove in three runs, Pedro Alvarez had a three-run shot and pinch-hitter Josh Harrison broke a tie with a long ball in the seventh inning as the Pittsburgh Pirates handed the Milwaukee Brewers their first road loss, 11-2 on Thursday night.

    April 18, 2014

  • Means, WVU baseball shut out Oklahoma

    Junior left-hander John Means of the WVU baseball team threw eight shutout innings and the Mountaineers had a five-run first inning en route to a 7-0 victory over Oklahoma on Thursday evening at L. Dale Mitchell Park.
    The Mountaineers (18-15, 3-6 Big 12) broke a six-game Big 12 losing streak after being swept by TCU and Oklahoma State in back-to-back weekends. WVU had 16 hits and did not make an error for the second-straight game.

    April 18, 2014

  • FURFARI COLUMN: Dr. Graber disagrees with Gee’s stance on Turnbull firing

    Dr. Stephen Graber, an associate professor at the West Virginia University School of Medicine, is among the latest WVU teachers to deplore Oliver Luck’s firing of veteran wrestling coach Craig Turnbull.
    He raised some significant questions about that issue last Monday in a meeting of the WVU Faculty Senate.

    April 18, 2014

Featured Ads
NDN Sports
House Ads
NCAA Breaking News
NCAA Photos