Smith puts blame on himself for West Virginia’s loss to Kansas State
Published: Wednesday, October 24, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, October 24, 2012 08:10
For the second week in a row, the prolific West Virginia offense struggled to get momentum going, and the Mountaineers found themselves behind early before falling to Kansas State 55-14.
The offense that looked unstoppable for the first five games of the year has struggled in the Mountaineers’ two losses, as they scored just 21 points on its last 23 drives.
One of the players who has struggled the most the last few weeks is senior quarterback Geno Smith.
After throwing for 24 touchdowns and no interceptions through the first five games, he’s thrown two touchdowns and two interceptions in WVU’s losses to Texas Tech and Kansas State.
"We didn’t get into a rhythm," Smith said. "We have to do a better job of staying on the field and putting ourselves in better and more manageable downs. I take full responsibility for that because the ball is in my hands on every play."
West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen said this week the senior shoudn’t be so quick to blame himself; It was a team effort that led to the Mountaineers’ loss to Kansas State.
"He cares more than anybody," Holgorsen said. "This doesn’t fall on his shoulders. This falls on all our shoulders – all of our coaches and all of our players. He is only one piece to everything.
"He needs to relax a bit and not bear that burden. We are going to get him back on track."
This is the first time since his first year as West Virginia’s starting quarterback that Smith has lost back-to-back games. In losses to Syracuse and Connecticut as a sophomore, the Mountaineers lost by a combined eight points. But against the Red Raiders and Wildcats, WVU has been outscored by 76 points.
"This is one of those things where we have reached our low. This is as low as it gets," Smith said. "I have never dealt with an adversity of this magnitude. I have never lost two games in this manner.
"I have to do a better job of being a leader, stepping up and getting guys to respond … I have to look myself in the mirror and just figure out ways to get better."
Saturday’s loss was, statistically, one of the worst of Smith’s career.
The senior finished 21 of 32 for 143 yards and a touchdown with his first two interceptions since WVU’s win against South Florida in December 2011.
There have only been two games during the Miami native’s time as West Virginia’s starter when he threw for fewer yards than he did against the Wildcats.
"There are a number of things that went wrong, but I am not going to sit here and point fingers at anyone else. I’m the leader of this team, and I’m the leader of this offense," Smith said.
Seeing what the offense had the ability to do in the first five games of the season made it even more frustrating for Smith. Holgorsen said he could see his quarterback and the rest of the Mountaineer offense pressing to put points up on the board faster as Kansas State’s lead grew throughout the game.
"He was, and we all were," Holgorsen said. "You have the ball a couple times, and you look up there, and you’re down 17 points. You start pressing; it’s inevitable.
"We were trying to score 14 points in one play. This is just not very good offensive football. You can’t have that mind-set."
But with the defense struggling, Smith said they can’t afford to press and make mistakes. They have to keep doing what they were doing through the first few games when they were winning games by scoring a lot of points, even when the defense struggled.
"If those guys score points, so what? We have to go out there and match it," Smith said. "It’s our job as an offense to score. We can’t worry about the defense. We have to worry about ourselves. I have to make sure that I am not getting caught up in the scoreboard or pressing and trying to get it all back in one play."