"It's not something you can just take a class on,'' Holgorsen said. "It's a lot like the non-verbal communication that exists between [Smith] and Stedman [Bailey] and Ivan [McCartney], due to the fact that they've been playing together for a long time - just the whole nod, 'Yes, I get it. I know what you mean.' And they go do it.
"If I make it cut-and-dried, plain as day, then everybody in the stands can figure out what the play is. We've got a lot of ways of communicating, a lot of different signals, and that's really just between me and him and nobody else.''
It has to happen fast, too. Holgorsen's last three quarterbacks - Case Keenum at Houston, Brandon Weeden at Oklahoma State and Smith - didn't even know him until eight or nine months before they played their first game.
"You just have to know him,'' Smith said. "And from just practicing hundreds of times and him yelling at me and knowing what he wants and expects of me, I can tell how he's feeling and what he wants me to do.''
And that takes time, which is why Holgorsen signals to him every day, even in practice when the job could be done by someone else just to allow practice to run more efficiently or to allow Holgorsen to look elsewhere.
"It's the same way every day, to where sometimes I do something different and he won't understand it,'' Holgorsen said. "Which means he just sits and stares. And then we do it again and he goes, 'Oh yeah, yeah. I got it.'"
Smith says the communication begins as soon as one play ends, usually right up until Smith begins putting the next play in motion. Even then, sometimes he will stop and look over at Holgorsen.
"A lot [happens],'' Smith said. "It's usually a lot of signals, a lot of communication, a lot of hand gestures and the faces he makes.
"It's not hard. That's the key to it. It's simple. He makes it simple. It's something that's been going on for 10 years and it always works.''
The Holgorsen-Smith communication is not perfect, yet, but Holgorsen isn't concerned.
"We'll get there,'' Holgorsen said. "We'll be better at it this week than we were last week.''
Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or dphickm...@aol.com.