The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

College Sports

November 4, 2011

Blitzing, 13 sacks don’t worry WVU’s Smith

MORGANTOWN — Pressure applied by opposing defenses doesn’t really worry West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith.

Going into Saturday’s Big East clash with Louisville, he intends to “stand back there as long as I can and make plays — good plays.”

Smith, a junior who leads by example, is ranked No. 5 nationally in passing with 339.4 yards per game. He has completed 209 of 330 passes for 2,715 yards and 20 touchdowns.

The 24th-ranked Mountaineers, 6-2 overall and 2-1 in the Big East, are favored by 14 points. Louisville is a deceiving 4-4 overall and is tied with WVU for second place in the league.

Smith has seen a bunch of blitzing in the first eight games — and has survived 13 sacks. But he remains both confident and fearless.

“I had a lot of experience last year, and I’m having more this year,” Smith said. “So there’s progression.”

Louisville, which has back-to-back Big East wins for the first time since 2006, sports defense as its chief strength.

The Cardinals are starting a true freshman at quarterback named Teddy Bridgewater. In five games, he has passed for 1,029 yards and seven TDs.

Wide receiver DeVante Parker has a team-high four touchdown receptions.

Saturday’s kickoff is set for noon. The game will be televised on WOAY-TV 4 (ABC).

This is the 13th meeting between the two schools. West Virginia leads the series by a 10-2 margin.

Geno Smith said he’s happy that the Mountaineers’ running attack has picked up.

“It’s a plus for our offense,” he noted.

Shawn Alston has become a more consistent contributor to the offense. He has 43 rushes for 217 yards and five TDs in six games this year.

But freshman Dustin Garrison has a team-high 517 yards on 83 carries and five scores.

WVU standout wide receiver Stedman Bailey ranks nationally with 815 receiving yards. Smith is aware that he needs only 185 to reach 1,000 for the year.

“Bailey is having a good season,” the quarterback said. “I hope he continues to play well and gets more than 1,000.

“But he’s not one of those guys who pays attention to stats. He just goes out there and does what he can to do what’s best for the team.

“We play hard for one another. That’s something we all benefit from.”

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