Stewart happy with Geno Smith’s progress, says best has yet to come
Published: Monday, November 15, 2010
Updated: Monday, November 15, 2010 22:11
Criticism of the West Virginia offense this season has stemmed from many different angles.
The Mountaineer head coach Bill Stewart and offensive coordinator Jeff Mullen have received the bulk of the condemnation, while the offensive line has taken its fair share of bashing across the fan base, as well.
Some of that criticism has even been about sophomore quarterback Geno Smith. The signal caller has had an up-and-down season.
Saturday would be considered one of this season's high points after his first-half, four-touchdown performance.
"I really believe he's really comfortable now," Stewart said Monday. "With each and every outing, he should get better."
Stewart said after watching film Sunday, he noticed Smith's maturity in his demeanor and poise, which are different from last year.
"Geno made some really key, quick decisions," he said. "I really liked what he was doing with his eyes. He did a really good job of looking people off. He's getting better."
Smith's four-touchdown passes and 15-of-25 passes for 175 yards through the air earned him Big East Offensive Player of the Week honors.
"I just thought Geno was protected very well and made a couple of nice throws," Stewart said. "I thought the young men just performed what they have been coached to do, and they made some pretty nice plays."
In the end, Stewart is pleased with the year Smith has had but advises the best is yet to come.
"He's not near the perfect player that he wants to be or the polished player that he wants to be in any way," Stewart said. "He's still a young man that has had nine collegiate starts. This year is going to be very big, next year will be even bigger, and the following year after that's going to be the biggest of all."
Stewart complimented the offensive line for holding its blocks and creating big plays.
"The line protection was where it all started," he said.
WVU ran a series of sweeps to Austin and Sanders that resulted in big plays Saturday against Cincinnati.
"Any time that we can bring No. 1 Tavon Austin and No. 9 Jock Sanders around to get the ball in their hands, I think that's advantageous to us," Stewart said. "I certainly would like to use as much of the talent that we have, so that's why we try to be unpredictable so to speak. Once we get that momentum going, things just seem to click."
WVU has struggled on the road in the Stewart era. This season, the Mountaineers have a 1-2 road record and are 4-9 in his three-year tenure.
"The team that out-blocks and out-tackles the other usually has a good chance at winning," he said. "There's no magic formula; you just take your game to where it is, and that's the mark of a good team, when you can go on the road and win."