The Times West Virginian

WVU 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
WVU Sports
  • WVU takes first step Thursday

    Perhaps the most used – and least factual – cliché in sports is as follows:
    “There’s no tomorrow.”
     

    July 30, 2014

  • Must WVU defense carry offense in ’14?

    The other day the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette ran a story under the following headline:
     

    July 30, 2014

  • smallwood-wendell(1)-2.jpg Charges against Smallwood dropped

     West Virginia University running back Wendell Smallwood took to Twitter mid-afternoon Tuesday to express his feelings after charges of witness intimidation against him were dropped by the state of Delaware.
    It took him only three words to say what was on his mind: “God is Good.” Smallwood is now free to return to West Virginia and rejoin his Mountaineer teammates when they open camp for the 2014 season Thursday.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Charges against Smallwood dropped

    West Virginia University running back Wendell Smallwood took to Twitter mid-afternoon Tuesday to express his feelings after charges of witness intimidation against him were dropped by the state of Delaware.

    July 29, 2014

  • Were Bowlsby’s fears about college athletics’ future justified?

    I have never met or even talked to Bob Bowlsby, commissioner of the Big 12 Conference.
    But I did read a lengthy story on his 45-minute address to reporters last week on Media Day in Dallas, Texas. Among other things, Bowlsby forecast a startling change threatening the existence of intercollegiate athletics as we have known for these many, many years.

    July 28, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Big 12 provides plenty of optimism

    This past week the Big 12 held its annual media gathering in Dallas and served up a heaping portion of optimism for the 2014 season that is now upon us, West Virginia University opening its preseason practices on Thursday.
    This is a time of year when no one has lost a game, not even Charlie Weis at Kansas, and it’s a time of year when opinions are more plentiful than tattoos in an NFL locker room.

    July 27, 2014

  • Seider's brother commits to WVU

    West Virginia University’s football team has received a commitment from one of its own.

    July 26, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Big 12 provides much optimism heading into 2014 season

    This past week the Big 12 held its annual media gathering in Dallas and served up a heaping portion of optimism for the 2014 season that is now upon us, West Virginia University opening its preseason practices on Thursday.

    July 26, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: WVU needs White to follow in former receivers’ footsteps

    A year ago Clint Trickett took a lot of grief as the once potent West Virginia offense came unraveled, but there is more that than meets the eye.
    The criticism was not unfounded, of course, although behind each incomplete pass there was the pain Trickett was suffering through to throw it, his rotator cuff in need of surgery.

    July 26, 2014

  • Forsey posts Top 10 finish at World Championships

    Freshman Jillian Forsey of the West Virginia University cross country team finished ninth at the 2014 IAAF World Junior Track and Field Championships in Eugene, Oregon.
    Forsey, a native of Stephenville, Newfoundland and Labrador, was representing Team Canada. She was the first Canadian to cross the finish line in the women’s 5,000-meter run, finishing in ninth place overall in 16:02.55.

    July 26, 2014

Featured Ads
WVU Sports Highlights
NDN Sports
House Ads
NCAA Breaking News
NCAA Photos