WVU notebook: Seriously, Smith thinks he could've done better
MORGANTOWN - It gets a little more ridiculous each week, it seems.
Geno Smith goes out and has another one of those games that seem to stretch the limits of credulity, then he just smiles a kind of sneaky smile when he's quizzed on how he could possible do better, which he always says he can.
"I think I've had better games,'' Smith said Saturday. "But yeah, statistically it was probably my best game.''
Really? He's never had the kind of numbers he put up in Saturday's 70-63 win over Baylor at Mountaineer Field?
Even Dana Holgorsen had to wonder out loud if his senior quarterback had reached a ceiling.
"I don't know how you can improve on that. He was 45 of 51 for 656 yards, eight touchdowns and zero interceptions,'' Holgorsen said, reading the stat sheet just right. "Can you please tell me how you can improve on that?''
No one could. Well, no one but Smith.
"I could have completed those five or six I didn't complete,'' Smith said in all seriousness. "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 there where I could have just scrambled and picked up 3 or 4 yards. I just have to continue to improve on my decision making and get better as a player overall.''
Stedman Bailey admits that he was a bit stunned by the numbers he put up Saturday on the receiving end of Smith's passes. He caught 13 passes for 303 yards and five touchdowns.
But he couldn't help but throw most of the credit to Smith, and with good reason.
Yes, Bailey made some terrific catches. He caught long balls over the shoulder in traffic and quick little passes over the middle while spending more an inordinate amount of time in the slot, rather than split wide.
But Smith always put the ball where only Bailey could catch it.
Perhaps the most impressive hook-ups between the two former high school teammates were the last two touchdowns. The first came when Smith faked a toss to Tavon Austin on that Jet sweep pass that resulted in four touchdowns against Clemson in the Orange Bowl. Baylor was never fooled by it, but wound up paying dearly in the end.
That's because the last time they ran it Smith faked the toss, the defense came up and Bailey was all alone to catch an 87-yard touchdown pass.
"You would think that with what I've been able to do I'd be covered on that play,'' Bailey said. "But I guess when he faked that flip to Tavon they all went for it.''
The last touchdown, though, was even more impressive. Smith had to scramble when he couldn't find anyone open. Bailey was downfield locked in double coverage. But as the play went on, even Bailey gave up. He slowed down and so did the two defenders with him.
But then Smith saw Bailey down field and Bailey saw Smith still scrambling. It only took a second for Bailey to speed up and run away from the two defenders and into the clear, catching a 39-yard touchdown pass.
"I actually gave up on the play,'' Bailey admitted. "The next thing I know, here comes the ball. That's what he does. He sees everything.''
Despite all the yards and completions and touchdowns, the biggest pass of the game might have been one of the last. And it was perhaps Smith's worst throw of the game.
But J.D. Woods grabbed it with a spectacular one-handed snatch that gave West Virginia a first down with less than two minutes to play and was instrumental in the Mountaineers being able to run out the clock.
"That was a terrible throw,'' Smith said. "That could have turned the game around. The DB could have caught that and run it back for a touchdown. But he made a great catch.''
Woods finished the day with 13 catches for 114 yards, but it was that one he'll remember most.
"That was probably one of my best, yeah,'' he said.
Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him at Twitter.com/dphickman1.