The Times West Virginian

July 27, 2012

Smith brushes off Big 12 honor

Senior QB  putting focus on season

By Bob Hertzel
Times West Virginian

MORGANTOWN — Much of the talk at the Big 12 media day was centered upon West Virginia University quarterback Geno Smith, who came out of nowhere to be named the league’s Preseason Offensive Player of the Year.

Is that a good thing?

Is that a bad thing?

“It’s a compliment to Geno,” his coach, Dana Holgorsen, admitted. “I think a lot is based on what happened the last game of the year, which in all my years for 12 straight bowl games, all my years of December practice time, I think we got better in the month of December last year more than we ever have.”

Think about that for a moment. Holgorsen felt that WVU, given bowl preparation time and an objective, finally reached its potential and did so by taking bigger strides in preparation than any previous Holgorsen team (read that offense) did.

“It’s a commitment to when we found out we were going to the Orange Bowl, it was a commitment on our coaches’ and our players’ standpoint to the point where they worked hard. They got better over 15 days, went into the game with a little bit of a chip on their shoulder.”

No one, however, stretched toward their potential any more than Smith.

“He progressed, and he’s got a chance to be pretty good. He stacks up with a lot of the other guys I’ve had in the past. Ultimately, it’s how many games you win. Him going into his senior year, he’s going to be remembered for how many games he wins.” Holgorsen said.

“If you look back at some of the guys in the past, Graham Harrell back four years ago at Texas Tech was a good player but they won 11 games his senior year. Case Keenum, and I was fortunate enough to coach him, won 12 or 13 games in his last year. Brandon Weeden last year at Oklahoma State. I think they won 15 games last year, or whatever it was.”

Smith understands this team-first concept and plays into it.

“Honestly, I’m honored to be selected. I didn’t take it any sort of way. I’m a guy who understands what this game is all about, and basically it comes down to what you do between the lines,” he said.

“I’m not going to go into the season thinking ‘I was the Big 12 preseason pick as Offensive Player of the Year’ because it means nothing. It comes down to what you can control, and the only thing I can control is on the field.”

And starting next week he begins final preparations for that.

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The NCAA has approved a transfer waiver request for West Virginia University men’s basketball player Matt Humphrey.

Humphrey, a 6-foot-5, 195-pound senior guard, will be eligible to compete for the Mountaineers this season. A Chicago native, Humphrey completed his undergraduate degree with a bachelor of arts in human development from Boston College in 2012. He will pursue a master’s degree at WVU this year.

As a junior at Boston College in 2011-12, Humphrey started 29 games and was second on the team in scoring at 10.3 points per game. He led the Eagles in minutes played (30.3) per game and steals (34), was second on the team in 3-point field goals made (55) and was third on the team in assists (50).

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Funny, isn’t it, how the Big 12 and WVU can let us all know they will play three Big Monday basketball games on ESPN … and each is what figures to be a big time game.

On Jan. 28 the Mountaineers and Bob Huggins take on Kansas in the first-ever meeting between the two schools. Then a week later, on Feb. 4, it’s Texas they face, and who could ever forget the 2006 Sweet 16 showdown between the two teams when Kevin Pittsnogle’s long-distance 3 tied the game only to have Kenton Paulino hit one on top of him at the buzzer.

And then WVU meets Huggins’ old team, Kansas State, on Feb. 18, but that game lost some luster when Huggins’ former assistant Frank Martin quit and left for South Carolina this year.

All games will be played at 9 p.m.

Staying up late is going to be unintended consequence of moving to the Big 12, where most everyone is on Central Time and therefore gets a later time slot than the Big East.

But if they can give us this much notice on those games, how come they failed to put out any kind of release that WVU’s first football meeting with Iowa State in Ames, Iowa, had been changed to a day game the Friday after Thanksgiving rather than on the Saturday it had been announced as being played?

If you made plans, better change them.

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The West Virginia women’s soccer match against Oklahoma State on Sunday, Sept. 23, originally scheduled for 1 p.m., has been moved up one hour to a noon kick at Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium.

Also, the Mountaineers have added an intriguing home exhibition match to their preseason schedule. West Virginia will face Pitt on Sunday, Aug. 12, at 7 p.m.

From Backyard Brawl to exhibition … welcome to the Big 12.

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West Virginia basketball players forward Kevin Noreen and point guard Juwan Staten are representing the East Coast All Stars at the Four Nations Cup, which runs through Wednesday in Estonia.

The East Coast All Stars, a team of players from around the country, will play an exhibition Friday then face the Czech Republic on Sunday, Estonia on Monday and the Republic of Georgia on Tuesday. Guy Rancourt of Lycoming College will serve as the East Coast coach.

Email Bob Hertzel at Follow on Twitter @bhertzel.