Geno Smith: QB's Performance Doesn't Negate West Virginia's Defensive Issues

Ian HanfordFeatured ColumnistSeptember 29, 2012

MORGANTOWN, WV - SEPTEMBER 29:  Geno Smith #12 of the West Virginia Mountaineers drops back to pass against the Baylor Bears during the game on September 29, 2012 at Mountaineer Field in Morgantown, West Virginia.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Every player on the West Virginia Mountaineers defense should take quarterback Geno Smith out to dinner, buy him a thank-you card and carry his pads for him at practice this week.

Smith's superhuman effort against the Baylor Bears on Saturday overshadowed a disturbing defensive performance. I'm not sure what's scarier, Smith's 656 yards and eight touchdowns on 45-of-51 passing, or that he needed every bit of it to earn his team the victory.

West Virginia's Big 12 debut was exciting, but they gave up 700 total yards to Baylor. The Bears were the No. 25 team in the nation; however, they're not one of the conference's upper-echelon teams.

Every time one team tried to run away in this one, one defense would give in. The Mountaineers rattled off 21-unanswered points to start the second quarter, but the game wound up being 70-63 in West Virginia's favor.

Winning is never a bad thing; allowing an inferior team back into the game like that is inexcusable.

Allowing 581 passing yards to Nick Florence and the Bears attack is bad news for West Virginia moving forward. How do they expect to beat the likes of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State if this trend continues?

They won't. You can't expect Smith to do this every game, even though he's undoubtedly a special player. Sooner or later, the Mountaineers defense will have to step up, and not just against teams like James Madison.

This isn't necessarily a surprise. West Virginia is allowing over 22 points-per-game. As dynamic as their offense is, their defense is just as bad.

Smith is definitely a rare talent, at least so far this season. He's capable of winning games all on his own, and he will give the Mountaineers a chance to win in most games, but Baylor won't be their stiffest challenge. Other defenses will be better; scoring 70 points every game isn't going to happen.

West Virginia has some work to do. You'll be hard pressed to find a more breathtaking team to watch on offense, despite their obvious shortcomings on the defensive side of the ball.

Smith, Stedman Bailey and Tavon Austin have taken the college football world by storm. Their collective performance on Saturday could be the best offensive output you see all season, but it doesn't come without flaws.

If this team wants to reach their ultimate goal, the defense must improve.