"What happens happens,'' Smith said. "I trust my leg. I've done it a million times. It's not gone well for me [at times], but I had to block that out of my mind and just go do my thing.''
It's hard to overstate the importance of what Smith did. His first punt, combined with a penalty against Pitt, sent the ball from West Virginia's 25 to the Pitt 10. The Panthers then went three-and-out and two plays later the Mountaineers scored.
Smith's second punt was a 50-yarder and Pitt went four-and-out. His third was 62 yards and was downed at the Pitt 2. And then his final kick came with WVU inside its own 15, nursing a one-point lead and just two minutes remaining. Even an average 40-yarder would have put the Panthers a couple of first downs away from field goal range.
He boomed another 60-yarder and Pitt started from its own 34. But even more significantly, that punt - as well as each one before it - energized not only the sellout crowd but also the Mountaineers themselves.
"He was my MVP,'' said quarterback Geno Smith.
For his part, Corey Smith said he would like the think that he facilitated some of the emotion and the win itself, which is unusual for a punter. But after being partially sidelined all those weeks - he still handled most of the kickoffs, although that was taken away too for a time - he had all that energy stored up.
But now comes the real test. Both Smith and Molinari have had their shining moments, only to fall back. Holgorsen made reference just this week to Smith's mindset when he said, "He could have folded his tent six or seven weeks ago.''
Now the Mountaineers have one regular-season game remaining, Thursday night at South Florida, with a Big East title on the line. Corey Smith knows he can't afford any more of those slips.
"I just have to make sure I'm consistent next time. That's the biggest key,'' he said. "If I don't do anything [against South Florida] then it's kind of irrelevant.''
Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or dphickm...@aol.com.