By Dave Morrison
As with most coaches, Connecticut coach Paul Pasqualoni noticed the play of West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith right away while watching tape this week.
It was the last thing Pasqualoni wanted to see.
No. 16 West Virginia (4-1) hosts the Huskies (2-3) at noon Saturday and will be televised locally on WOAY-TV 4.
Last week, in a 38-31 loss to Western Michigan, the Connecticut defense allowed 479 passing yards.
Smith has thrown for 1,709 yards (138 of 213) with 12 touchdowns and just three interceptions.
“Geno Smith is an excellent player,” Pasqualoni said. “I’m becoming familiar with him through watching film. He’s a prototype, drop back passer. He can make all the throws. He looks great in the pocket. He’s clearly capable of moving. His feet are very good. So he’s clearly capable of moving, scrambling, pushing up, moving to the outside, running with the ball downfield, or resetting his feet and throwing. He’s pretty impressive.”
“He is a great quarterback,” UConn linebacker Sio Moore said. “He is smart with the ball and has a great arm. If he can’t make a play, he can beat you with a run. He’s a good guy. Look forward to going against him. We have to contain him. As long as we can get to the quarterback, we will have a good chance at winning.”
Obviously, UConn needs a better performance against WVU’s high-octane passing offense than they had last week.
“I think the biggest adjustment we have to make is to play the coverages better. I think it starts there. You’ve got to hang your hat on fundamentals, on techniques,” Pasqualoni said.
“The West Virginia offense has got a lot of similarities to Western Michigan in a sense that it’s a spread. There’s going to be four wide receivers in the game an awful lot. There’s going to be three wide receivers with a tight end, that’s flexed.”
WVU is led by Tavon Austin with 35 receptions for 490 yards and a touchdown, Stedman Bailey (27-456-3) and Ivan McCartney (29-324-3).
Making matters worse, WVU seemed to get its running untracked when freshman Dustin Garrison ran for 291 yards and two scores against Bowling Green.
“(Dustin Garrison) is very quick,” Pasqualoni said. “He’s not real big. They run the draw, and they run that zone play, behind these big offensive linemen. He’s kind of hard to see sometimes. He can make you miss. He’s a downhill runner. He’s a very good zone runner.”