By TOM BONE
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
Geno Smith looked more like a typical college student than a Heisman Trophy contender when he walked into the postgame press conference dressed in a bright blue T-shirt at Milan Puskar Stadium on Saturday.
A vinyl backpack on his shoulders, the West Virginia quarterback quietly walked to the podium and waited for questions. He knew that one, in particular, was coming.
“I could care less about the Heisman Trophy,” he said calmly. “The biggest thing for us is that we won the game today.”
The 6-foot-2 senior had just led the Mountaineers to a 70-63 win over their first Big 12 foe, previously undefeated Baylor, on homecoming day in Morgantown.
He tied a record for the Football Bowl Subdivision with eight touchdown passes. In addition to his scoring throws, he set school records for single-game passing yards (656), completions (45) and consecutive completions (14).
After all that, he told the media, “This game was all about us just pushing through as a team and as an offense. And I think we did a great job of overcoming adversity.”
“You know, last week people were saying that we were the worst offense in the country because we scored, what, 31 points on Maryland.”
“I always say we’re on a mission: We want to win ’em all, and we’re going to take it day by day, a game at a time. We’re 4-0 and we’ll put this game behind us, and focus on Texas.”
After going 45 for 51 in the passing department, he said he’s still seeking perfection.
“I could have completed those five or six that I didn’t complete,” he said. “We didn’t score [on] that first drive. We had a couple of drives that stalled.”
“I had a couple of situations where I kind of forced some balls in that I could have probably scrambled and maybe picked up three or four yards.”
He said his task is to “just continue to improve on my decision-making, and getting better as a player.”
He was not aware at the time that his head coach Dana Holgorsen had stood at the same spot and upbraided a reporter, stating, “He was 45-of-51 for 656 yards, eight touchdowns and zero interceptions. Can you please tell me how you can improve on that?”
Smith said, “I think it’s more about the team. It just lets us know that we’re going to have to battle it out every week against some tough teams in the Big 12. ... We overcame adversities, and just got better as the game went along.”
“I’ve got a lot of football left in my career. Up to this point, it’s one of my the many games. I’ve had better games. Statistically, it’s my best game ever, but like I said, I’ve got a lot of games left.”
He said he is aware of his statistics “sometimes, but it doesn’t really matter, in the heat of the battle. You’ve got to continue to go out there and put the plays behind you ... and continue to focus on the play at hand and not focus on the past.”
Asked about the pressure of outscoring Baylor, he said, “No pressure. We don’t believe in pressure around here, because at the end of the day, it’s still a football game, and we got to go out there and do our job. And it’s something we all love to do — which is why I do it.”
“I put that pressure on myself in practice, rather than in the game.”
He praised a game plan that allowed receiver Stedman Bailey to catch 13 passes for 303 yards. Smith said, “I think we did a great job of moving him around, putting him into different positions, He was able to get open, shake some defenders and make good plays.”
Bailey said, “I’ve got tremendous faith in him to put the ball where it needs to be.”
He praised senior receiver J.D. Woods who also had 13 catches.
“J.D.’s done a great job,” Smith said. “The more he emerges as that third guy, and the better he gets, I think it’s going to help us out tremendously, because teams really can’t double-team Stedman and Tavon [Austin] because there’s an extra guy there.
“And then we can run the ball. And you can only get so many players on the field at a time.”
He praised his offensive line for “playing great.”
He praised his defense, and came to their defense.
“I don’t want those guys to hold their head [down], because it’s a team game,” he said. “I’m pretty sure we’ll need those guys, coming up pretty soon.”
His coach praised him for his composure.
Holgorsen said, “He’s the one kid on our team who is not fazed by anything. I don’t care what you throw at him. Whatever situations are put in front of him, he’s going to take it head on.”
“He’s got higher expectations for himself and he can handle any situation that you can throw at him.”
“I do worry that about him. He expects perfection — which perfection is impossible. In the game of football, perfection is impossible. But that’s just something that makes him great.”
Smith, it seems, is getting praise from every direction.
The Associated Press reported that NBA star LeBron James tweeted that Smith’s 656-yard passing day was “ridiculous.”
Smith is the subject of a website, genosmith4heisman.com. The site had been “liked” by 4,477 people as of Sunday night.
He has completed 83 percent of his passes, thrown 20 touchdowns and had no interceptions through the first four games of the year.
The Mountaineers’ previous wins had come against “three Ms” — Marshall, James Madison and Maryland, who have a collective record of 7-6 this season.
Now WVU will travel to play the University of Texas and Texas Tech on the next two weekends. Those defenses will provide a different challenge.
One reporter asked if he “felt sorry” for defensive coordinators who have to scheme against his team.
He began to issue a non-answer, then paused. “No, I don’t actually,” he said. “I know they’re going to come up with some crazy schemes, and we’ve got to be prepared for it.”
“I’m pretty sure when they watch this film [of the Baylor game], they’re going to say they’ve got explosive weapons everywhere, a quarterback who can make all his throws and we’ve got to throw everything [at them].”
Not that he was bragging, mind you.
— Contact Tom Bone