MORGANTOWN - At some point during West Virginia's four weeks of spring football practice that begin today, someone will no doubt preface a question about personnel to Mountaineer coach Bill Stewart by saying, "If the season were to start today ...''
And if Stewart were entirely truthful, his answer - no matter the specifics of the question - would be succinct.
"We'd be in a world of trouble,'' he would have no alternative but to answer.
That's because the single most pressing concern for the Mountaineers to address between now and the start of the 2010 season in five months is at quarterback. The presumptive starter, sophomore Geno Smith, is still recovering from a broken bone in his foot.
Stewart, though, is trying to put the best face possible on the situation. As the Mountaineers go through their 15 spring workouts - the final one the Gold-Blue scrimmage on Friday, April 30 - Smith will be involved.
He just won't be as active as what anyone would like.
"Geno can hand the ball off. He can take snaps. He can throw,'' Stewart said Monday. "What he can't do is run bootlegs and play-action fakes and do a lot of the stuff we're going to try to work into the offense with the tight ends.
"That's the bad part. The biggest problem is not being able to get him into game shape as far as the timing and running all of those things.''
Stewart said Smith will still take the majority of the reps with the No. 1 offense in skeleton drills and in light team drills. What he won't do is take snaps in scrimmage situations.
"But we usually don't let our starter do a lot of that anyway,'' Stewart said. "If anybody gets near him I'll hit them. And the players know that.''
Instead, Coley White and walk-on Josh DePasquale will be the quarterbacks who run the offense when contact is involved. The trouble is, neither seems to be in the mix even for the primary backup role to Smith in the fall. That might very well fall to one of the two freshman recruits who won't even arrive until the summer - Barry Brunetti and Jeremy Johnson.
"But [White and DePasquale] know what they're doing,'' Stewart said. "We'll be all right with those two taking snaps and being able to let the rest of the offense work on what they need to be doing.''