"It really wasn't about the excitement factor. You can't measure how hard a guy is going,'' Smith said. "My anger is just from losing. I hate to lose. I hate to be down. I want perfection, even though it's impossible. So if I'm angry it's not at anyone or about any specific thing. It's just my competitive nature.''
The next time the Mountaineers got the ball, Smith fumbled on the first play, seemingly setting up Marshall for a close-the-door score. But after Herd freshman Tron Martinez fumbled on first-and-goal from the WVU 6, Smith began engineering the comeback. In those last two drives he completed 17-of-20 passes, ran twice for big gains and threw the tying TD pass and conversion.
Talk about your confidence builders. Or, maybe not.
"I don't think it helped my confidence as much as it helped my understanding of the game and knowing that you're never out of it no matter how much time's left or how many points are on the scoreboard,'' Smith said. "You can always come back. You just have to fight back and believe.''
And, of course, play with a little bit of enthusiasm. Smith has never been accused of being too stoic. In fact, Holgorsen has said repeatedly that there are times when he has to try to dial back Smith's enthusiasm.
Smith, though, prefers to think of it as just having fun.
"I never go crazy. A lot of times I just go out there and have fun,'' Smith said. "I love playing football. I have fun. I enjoy it. Sometimes Coach tells me to calm down a little bit, that I might be showing off a little bit, but I'm just having fun.''
When the teams meet Sunday, perhaps the best place for the Mountaineers to land is somewhere in the middle of the lack of enthusiasm shown in last year's game and the sometimes over-the-top zeal of Smith.
Smith, though, prefers to think of it as business as usual against an opponent that took the Mountaineers to the brink last year.
"Rivalry or not, it's a game we have to go out and win,'' Smith said. "We can't look at the history or whatever because they can come out and beat us. They showed that last year, aside from those two last-minute drives.''
Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or dphickm...@aol.com.