With a near-perfect performance against in-state rival Marshall, Geno Smith took his first step toward a Heisman Trophy.
The senior quarterback completed 32 of 36 passes for 316 yards and four touchdowns in just over three quarters of play, helping the West Virginia Moutaineers to a 62-20 lead before taking a seat on the bench. He also added 63 yards rushing, including a 28-yard touchdown on a broken play.
While Marshall may not have a Big XII caliber roster, few teams in the conference are known for their exceptional pass defense. On opening weekend, West Virginia looked like a perfect fit.
Smith lined up in the pistol formation much of the game and shot holes in the Thundering Herd defense with an array of short passes. The efficiency of the Mountaineer offense was devastating, mixing passes and runs so well that they did not have to attempt a punt until well into the third quarter. When Marshall brought extra defenders into the box, Smith hit them over the top with big plays, completing two of three pass attempts over 20 yards—a 32-yard touchdown to Stedman Bailey on the game’s opening drive, and a 52-yard bomb to Bailey on his last drive at the helm.
Smith looked very comfortable in the pocket thanks to his offensive line and the soft Marshall defense, but even when pressured, he managed to make several positive plays with his feet. He never took a sack and threw no interceptions.
West Virginia made a statement today: they have picked up where they left off after eviscerating Clemson in the Orange Bowl for 70 points. Big XII beware.