Smith is healthy for spring practice for first time in WVU career
Published: Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Updated: Tuesday, March 29, 2011 23:03
West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith met his new coach Dana Holgorsen back in January over Winter Break.
Smith, who had just come off a 24-7 loss to N.C. State in the Champs Sports Bowl and was about to have a third foot surgery since his time at WVU, was a bit hesitant about change.
Smith said Holgorsen told him he "needed to go to class" and "needed to come out here and work hard" during the quick 30-minute conversation at Smith's old high school.
"I really like the fact that he's an up-front guy. He doesn't sugar-coat things. He didn't come in boasting about his numbers or anything like that," Smith said. "He just said that we have to work hard, and that's something that we as players like."
While it will be Holgorsen's first season at West Virginia after coming from Oklahoma State in the offseason, it will be a first for Smith, as well.
Despite being a junior in 2011, Smith hasn't fully participated in a spring practice yet at WVU. He didn't join the team until fall practice as a freshman and wore a green, no-contact jersey for spring practice as a sophomore, participating in only pass skeleton drills.
Smith wasn't sure whether he would be able to participate completely in this year's spring practice following the end of last season, as he was about to have another foot surgery.
"He needs to rep. I haven't been anywhere where we haven't repped three quarterbacks in the spring," Holgorsen said.
It seems surgery was effective, and Smith was sure in late February he would be full-go come today when WVU opens practice.
"It's kind of strange. It's my junior year, but it will be my first spring participating fully," Smith said. "I'm always up for it. I'm ready to play."
This season will be crucial, not just for Smith but for West Virginia's offense. The Mountaineers must spend much of this spring learning a new offense, and they will do so without a veteran at the running back position for the first time since 2005.
WVU will have Smith, who is the team's first two-year starter since Pat White left in 2008. He will have to beat out a pair of freshmen, Brian Athey and Paul Millard.
"He's quiet but aware of his surroundings and what being quarterback is all about. He has tremendous leadership," Holgorsen said of his projected starting quarterback. "You can see people gravitate toward him, and he wins football games."
Smith, who is even being touted as a darkhorse Heisman Trophy candidate in 2011, has spent much of the offseason alongside Holgorsen learning the new offense.
Smith admitted the new system isn't difficult. In fact, Holgorsen said it will only take three days of spring practice to install the offense.
After those three days, the offense will revisit the plays it learned and develop those into different formations. In total, WVU's offense will go through the offense four times this spring, Holgorsen said.
"It will start very basic. We have a simple pass play that we can do out of eight formations. You put it in one way, and then you put in a different formation or variation with it the next time," he said. "We install in thirds and just keep reviewing it. You hit everything four times."
At the end of spring practice, Holgorsen will have a better idea of what to do with the offense for next season.
"We'll have a better idea of who can do what and maybe be able to move some positions around. Maybe move a guy from here to there," he said. "At that point, you take all the film from spring and you break it up into cutups and make notes on what we feel we need to do better. Then they've got to do a lot of voluntary stuff. They've got to go out and work on it."