By Bob Hertzel
For the Times West Virginian
Tommy Tuberville has a pretty strong coaching resume, including coaching in the Southeastern Conference and the Big 12, and the Texas Tech coach knows he hasn’t gone up against a defensive challenge like the one West Virginia and Geno Smith pose.
“This is about as good as it gets,” Tuberville said, referring to Smith. “He’s close to where (NFL first-round pick Brandon Weeden out of Oklahoma State) was, but in different ways. He has great touch on the ball and speed at receiver. He stands in the pocket. He’ll take a sack rather than turn it over. What makes a good quarterback is to take what they give you.”
That is exactly what Smith does.
“I’ve been very impressed, and I’ve seen a lot of quarterbacks,” Tuberville said. “He’s a cool guy.”
This past summer Tuberville had taken his son and his quarterback, Seth Doege, to the Manning Quarterback Camp.
“I saw Smith there and he was the best quarterback there,” Tuberville said. He did not make clear if he was including Eli and Peyton Manning ... or Archie.
This is the week of the annual Oklahoma-Texas showdown in Dallas, the cowboy version of “The Backyard Brawl.”
“The game is really special,” said Texas Coach Mack Brown. “I always said it’s like a bowl game in midseason. It’s at a neutral site and it’s one of the few places where you get half Oklahoma, half Texas fans. The game is one of the reasons people go to both schools ... they want to go to that game, and I was fortunate enough to coach on both sides.”
There has been some talk in recent years about moving the game out of Dallas and alternating campus sites, the two schools possessing wonderful stadia of their own.
Brown isn’t quite ready to make that move though.
“They once asked Darrell Royal about that and he said it is the history of the game that makes it so special. The game is in Dallas and we’re excited it’s there.”
Bob Stoops, the Oklahoma coach, also likes the game being in Dallas, but he understands the business reasons behind the thoughts of moving it.
“It’s one of the better rivalries out there, the history and tradition of it,” he said. “It heated up even more when we were in the same conference and, for the longest time, in the same division.
“I think it’s great where it is but I understand the business part of it,” he continued. “The Cotton Bowl and the City of Dallas have to make it right for us to be there. As long as the schools are treated fairly it’s fine, but we both have great campuses and stadiums to play in if that wasn’t the case.”
Head coach Charlie Weis is trying to turn things around in Lawrence, Kan., with the Jayhawks, and he took an unusual approach this past week.
After being blown out by instate rival Kansas State, he kept his seniors out of Sunday’s practice.
“When you are developing a team down at the bottom of the league, developing for the future, there’s only so much developing you can do with the seniors. They are five games into their last year. It is what it is,” Weis said.
He noted that they didn’t have the day off, they just didn’t practice.
“If you think I gave them a day off after losing to our instate rival by 40, you’re crazy. They just weren’t involved in that part of the day. I wanted to let the younger guys know that we’re going to be coaching them hard all week, not just one Sunday. We’re looking for development.”
It remains to be seen how much team unity will come out of that.
Dana Holgorsen spent almost a decade as an assistant coach in Lubbock, which is this week’s stop for the Mountaineers as they face Texas Tech, and it is where he really put together the pieces on what has become his offense.
But Holgorsen doesn’t sound too emotional about his return this week.
“I’m not going to think twice about it. I’m over it,” he said. “I had eight great years there. I played there when I was an assistant at Houston and at Oklahoma State. I’m five years removed and over the emotions.”
The Monday after beating Texas in Austin the rankings came out and WVU was No. 1 — but not in football.
The football team was ranked No. 4 and 5 in the two polls, but the WVU rifle team, the only team to bring the school a national championship, was the top-ranked team in the first Collegiate Rifle Coaches Association poll.
Speaking of honors, WVU took home two of the three weekly honors in the Big 12, Tavon Austin being named special teams Player of the Week and running back Andrew Buie being named Offensive Player of the Week.
Kickoff has been set for the Oct. 20 battle with Kansas State, which is setting up as the game of the season, and it will be played at 7 p.m. and carried nationally on Fox.
K-State, like WVU, is undefeated, and whichever team survives that should jump into the Top Three, maybe Top Two, in the nation.
Email Bob Hertzel at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @bhertzel.