"He's improved his size and speed. He said after the game that the game slowed down for him. And he's making better decisions. Those things are a sign of his maturity as a quarterback and where he's at as a quarterback.''
The size and speed Holgorsen referenced certainly play a part in what Smith might be able to do as a quarterback who has to be honored by a defense for his ability to run. An offseason workout program that he admits was designed only to make him more attractive as an NFL prospect has turned him from a skinny, frail kid into a 6-foot-3, 225-pound man.
It's noticeable not only in the way he looks, but also in the way he plays and the confidence he has.
"You know, I was talking to him at the end of the game when I got down on the sideline and he said, 'You know, I just feel a lot stronger,' '' Spavital recalled. "He's a confident kid to begin with, but being that strong now and putting on the weight, he's even more confident.''
Still, Smith isn't suddenly Tim Tebow with an arm, and doesn't want to be.
"People try to label me as a dual-threat quarterback and I don't know why. I don't have that many rushing yards,'' Smith said. "But I can use my legs to my advantage when I need to.''
That's fine with Holgorsen, who says he has never had a quarterback injured and certainly doesn't want to start with this one.
"We don't want him to run a ton,'' Holgorsen said. "Last year he would be slow in making that decision to run. Now, he doesn't take a lot of shots and gets out of bounds. It is going to pose a problem for some people.''
Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or dphickm...@aol.com or follow him at Twitter.com/dphickman1.