The Times West Virginian

WVU Sports

April 30, 2010

HERTZEL COLUMN: Smith’s foot will keep him out of game

MORGANTOWN — Unless there is a miracle in the final 24 hours of West Virginia University’s spring football season, Geno Smith will not put a broken foot onto Mountaineer Field on Friday night, at least not while there is any action going on.

This, as you all will come to find out in the fall, is your loss because this calm, cool gunslinger out of Florida is the real deal, even playing on one foot.

If things continue to go in the direction they are headed, the face of West Virginia will have completely changed by next season. No longer will teams be able to crowd the line of scrimmage, zeroing in on the speed of Steve Slaton or the elusiveness of Patrick White or Noel Devine.

It is now, to play on Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s “Paul Revere’s Ride,” one if by land, six points if by air, for WVU is wearing the 10-gallon hat and toting the six-shooter of a gunslinger.

True, Noel Devine remains on the premises and primed in his final season to run for more than the 1,400 yards he put together last year. And true, Ryan Clarke is now a full-fledged part of the offense, ready to clear a path for Devine or pick up the tough inside yardage that WVU will need so badly.

But this is going to be Smith’s team, his face being the face of West Virginia football, 2010.

His arm is strong and true, his eyes all-seeing as fleet receivers scurry through the secondary. His timing is nearly perfect and his delivery flawless.

There are questions, yes.

That off-season broken foot limited his participation this spring to non-contract drills without either an offensive or defensive line, for fear the broken bone in his foot would be further injured. Considering that there are many pressing questions about the offensive line’s ability to protect him, that piece of the puzzle must wait until the leaves begin to turn in the fall.

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