The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

College Sports

December 2, 2010

Smith set for home finale

WVU quarterback wants to send seniors out on a high note

Greg Schiano has heard West Virginia coach Bill Stewart talk in positive terms about his sophomore quarterback several times this season.

But until looking at Geno Smith on film, the Rutgers coach didn’t know much about him.

West Virginia (8-3, 4-2 Big East) hosts Rutgers (4-7, 1-5) at noon Saturday. It will be Senior Day.

After film, Schiano himself gushed about the West Virginia signalcaller.

“He has a big arm and can make all the throws, but he is also very elusive,” he said. “They still do the gun-run game, and when he does it, he makes people miss. He runs away from people and he runs over people. He is a big man. He is also very tough in the pocket to get down on the ground. I can see why they were so excited about him when I heard coach Stewart talk about him. You could tell he thought he would be a really good player and he is.”

On Saturday, Smith and the Mountaineers need a win over Schiano’s Scarlet Knights to earn a share of the Big East championship. If Connecticut falls at South Florida Saturday night, the Mountaineers will earn a BCS bid.

“Even aside from the BCS bowl talk, this weekend is important for us to get a win for our seniors to send those guys out on a high note,” Smith said. “We all want to get a win because it’s our last home game and just to boost the morale of the team.”

The season started with the goal to earn a conference title and a win will do that.

“It would mean a lot to all of us,” Smith said. “We came in with the intention of going undefeated, but we had a loss early. Then our goal was to win the Big East and we lost two games and put ourselves in the situation that put us in the hole, I think we climbed out of it and responded very well. It would be great if we won this game and won the  Big East, but we’re mainly focusing on just getting the win first.”

For the season, Smith has been up and down.

But he has completed 196 of 305 passes (64.3 percent) for 2,215 yards and 22 touchdowns. He has been picked off six times, but three came against Syracuse in a loss in Morgantown.

He will be playing his final home game with favorite target Jock Sanders (58 receptions, 589 yards and four touchdowns) and Noel Devine, mainstays on the team.

“It’s been a pleasure to work with guys who hold school records and just having them around is great for me as a person, as well as to grow and bond with two great athletes,” Smith said. “When I see them on Sunday Night Football, I can say, ‘I played with those guys.’”

— E-mail: demorrison@register-herald.com

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