The Times West Virginian

Sports

December 28, 2012

Bowl last stop before Smith hits NFL

MORGANTOWN — The curtain goes down Saturday on one of the greatest quarterback careers in West Virginia history when Geno Smith plays his final game for the Mountaineers against Syracuse in the Pinstripe Bowl.

That, however, may be the wrong way to view the event, for it is being played out also as the prelude to what may be the best quarterback in this year’s NFL Draft.

WVU, of course, has turned out a great string of quarterbacks who went on and made their mark in the National Football League and one who didn’t in Major Harris.

Considering that he played for a national title, one cannot hold against him that he wasn’t the head of his team as an NFL player.

But there were others who established themselves in the league, such as Jeff Hostetler, who won a Super Bowl; Marc Bulger, who started for a dozen years; and Pat White, another QB who was ahead of himself and didn’t offer the NFL what it was looking for.

Smith, however, seems to possess all the assets necessary to become a big-time NFL quarterback, complete with a strong, accurate arm, excellent timing, an ability to perform at key moments and the experience of a lifetime throwing to NFL quality receivers like Stedman Bailey and Tavon Austin.

“This experience meant a lot for me, to me,” he said the other day as the team prepared for the Pinstripe Bowl. “To be here at West Virginia and to endure four years as a student-athlete is not an easy thing to do.”

It was, for the most part, an intriguing group of players put together on the West Virginia offense.

“We’ve also excelled off the field and on the field, which is extremely hard to do,” Smith continued.

That was important during this senior season because of the fallout in mid-year, five losses in a row coming out of nowhere to ruin what some thought could be a championship season despite severe defensive problems.

“I appreciate the fan base sticking with us and staying behind me through tough times,” Smith said. “There were a lot of changes around here we all had to go through. We never hung our heads, felt sorry for each other and we never turned on one another. We’ve been through this together.”

They came in to play for Bill Stewart and coordinator Jeff Mullen but that was taken down following their sophomore season when Dana Holgorsen was brought in to raise the offensive level.

He did that, culminating with an Orange Bowl for the ages that saw WVU score 70 points in a 70-33 victory over a good Clemson team, records falling on nearly every play.

And that wasn’t even enough.

“We tried to make it more than a once-in-a-lifetime thing but it didn’t work out. We wanted to go back this year, but now that the dust has settled we understand we’re in the Pinstripe Bowl and it will be a neat experience,” Smith said.

That game, Smith admits, changed his life.

“I say it did,” he said. “The Orange Bowl gave me the MVP. It was a big buildup for this year, which is what you want. It was good recognition for this year. I’m in the history books in the Orange Bowl in that stadium,” Smith said.

It was a game that Smith almost duplicated in the regular season, facing Baylor in the first Big 12 conference game, WVU scoring 70 points and Smith passing for 656 yards.

It wasn’t only the gravy train for Smith because after losing to Connecticut as a sophomore Smith went home to spend some time with his mother while getting his head straight.

“I think that was the lowest point in my college career,” he said.

This year after his fast start Smith was being hyped as the Heisman Trophy winner.

“I never believed in the hype,” he said. “There’s something Jake (Spavital) tells me: You’re never as good as you think you are or as bad as you think you are. They know around here I’m going to be the same person no matter how many accolades I get. I’m not doing it by myself. There are 11 guys on each side of the ball,” he said.

This game has taken on a lot of meaning to Smith because Syracuse has beaten him each of the last two years, and to lose to a Big East team this time around would be a crushing blow.

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

1
Text Only
Sports
  • Morgan Hoke -ts.jpg Polar Bear tennis sweeps East: PHOTOS

    Last week East Fairmont’s girls’ tennis team beat Fairmont Senior, 4-3.
    Wednesday at Fairmont State University, the Polar Bears returned the favor with a 5-2 win over their cross-town rival.
    Alissa Link won No. 1 singles, 8-4. Morgan Hoke won No. 3 singles, 9-7. And Avery Towns won No. 4 singles, 8-5, for the Polar Bears.

    April 24, 2014 8 Photos

  • Falcons set for spring game

    Football is back … well, kind of.
    Today at 7 p.m., Fairmont State will hold its annual Maroon & White spring game at Duvall-Rosier Field. The scoreboard won’t mean a whole lot since it’s little more than a glorified scrimmage. Instead, here are five things to watch during today’s game.

    April 24, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: NCAA football is thriving in the digital age

    The other day Baylor football coach Art Briles walked into his graduate assistants’ office and had to laugh at what he saw.
    “There’s five guys sitting in there — a couple of GA’s and some office personnel — and they all are within a foot and a half of each other and not a one of them is talking to each other,” Briles said, describing the scene “Every one of them is on the phone.”

    April 24, 2014

  • Hillberry commits to Wesleyan

    Last year Emma Harrison and Kaitlyn Conaway teamed up with Alexis Hillberry to win several relay medals at the state track meet.
    Though the two West Virginia Wesleyan runners are now in college, they helped to pass the baton to Hillberry Wednesday when she signed her National Letter of Intent to join her former teammates on the Bobcats’ track team.

    April 24, 2014

  • O’Brien leads WVU baseball past Marshall

    Catcher Cam O’Brien made a bid at becoming only the second West Virginia University player to hit for the cycle as the Mountaineers jumped on Marshall early and routed their in-state rival, 10-3, behind strong pitching from Corey Walter and a pair of relievers.

    April 24, 2014

  • North, East softball earn blowout wins

    The North Marion softball team was at it again Wednesday night.
    Mattie Polling tripled and singled, starting pitcher Chelsi Latocha doubled and gave up just one hit as the Huskies rolled to another 3-inning mercy-rule victory over Lewis County, 18-1.

    April 24, 2014

  • Simon, Bruce lead Reds past Bucs, 5-2

    Alfredo Simon pitched into the seventh inning despite erratic control, Jay Bruce drove in a run for a fifth consecutive game and the Cincinnati Reds beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 5-2 Wednesday night.
    Simon (3-1) worked 6 2-3 innings and allowed two runs on four hits and five walks while striking out four.

    April 24, 2014

  • Pens squander lead, fall to Columbus

    Brandon Dubinsky scored with 22.5 seconds left in regulation to force overtime and Nick Foligno’s wrist shot just inside the blue line 2:49 into the extra session gave the Columbus Blue Jackets a 4-3 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday night.

    April 24, 2014

  • FSHS #32, 29-BU #15-TS.jpg Cousins Sansalone, Craig lead Polar Bears past B-U: PHOTOS

    They say you don’t mess with family. Buckhannon-Upshur found that one out the hard way.

    April 23, 2014 7 Photos

  • Gabbi Mascaro Signing -md.jpg Mascaro signs with FSU

    Gabi Mascaro is staying in Fairmont.
    After considering several out-of-state colleges, the Fairmont Senior soccer standout signed her National Letter of Intent Tuesday to continue her career at Fairmont State University, an upstart program which will play its first games in 2015.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

Featured Ads
NDN Sports
House Ads
NCAA Breaking News
NCAA Photos