Smith continues strong play against Marshall
Published: Wednesday, September 5, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, September 5, 2012 01:09
It only took four drives before West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith made history in Saturday’s 69-34 win over Marshall.
When he completed his 12th pass of the game early on in the second quarter, the senior passed Marc Bulger to become WVU’s all-time leader in completions. He would then go on to pass Bulger in career touchdown passes later in the game.
In his third season as the No. 11 West Virginia football team’s starting quarterback, the records are just the first glimpse of how much Smith has evolved throughout his career.
"I would hate for me to be here and be the same player I was three years ago because that obviously means I haven’t (done anything) for three years," Smith said. "I hope I’ve impressed some people and that I continue to improve – that’s all I preach.
"Improve every day. Never take one day for granted because you can’t get time back."
Smith completed 32 of 36 passes for 323 yards and four touchdowns. It was the first time a Mountaineer signal caller had completed more than 30 passes without throwing more than 40 times, and his 89 percent completion percentage was second in the nation behind Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater (19-of-21).
On the surface it looked like Smith played about as well as he could. But he’s not going to think about it too much.
"It’s probably one of my best statistical games," Smith said. "I made some good reads, I don’t want to boast on that, but I’m proud to say I did some great things today and my improvement is paying off."
Saturday was the fourth time Smith has beaten Marshall in his career. In his freshman year, he didn’t earn the start but played a significant portion of the game when starter Jarrett Brown went out of the game with an injury.
It’s the first time a WVU quarterback has beaten the same team four years in a row since Pat White did it against Connecticut. Smith admits that the familiarity he has with Marshall helped him Saturday.
"Seeing those guys for four years, I’ve been able to pick up on a lot of things they do," he said. "But I also think they gave us a little bit. They were playing off a lot. That’s the reason for the high completion percentage."
During his time as the starter, Smith has been forced to become more of a leader. This year, as a senior who has been through a lot, he’s the unquestioned person in charge of the Mountaineer offense.
"I saw the leader that he is (during camp)," said senior wide receiver J.D. Woods. "I tell him all the time in practice, ‘Just lead us, Geno. Lead us.’ We’re his troops."
That leadership was on display before the Marshall game even started. When the Thundering Herd ran out of the tunnel, they were met by a group of West Virginia players waiting for them, trash talking.
And it was Smith in front leading the charge.
"When you see your quarterback getting in there, I think the guys really respect that," Smith said. "Before the game, everybody’s emotions are running and your adrenaline is pumped up and you get excited. That’s the thing that’s so great about college football."