West Virginia's Geno Smith on Heisman Hype: "It Means Nothing to Me"
On a teleconference call with the media on Tuesday, West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith dutifully placated the media with biting answers and plenty of sound bites.
He sounded confident. That's a good thing. Especially with Texas looming this Saturday.
"I can make every throw," he said, when asked if there were any particular passes that suited his abilities better than others. "That's not a cocky statement or anything like that, that's just how I am.
"I'm blessed with tremendous talent," he continued. "I'm also athletic and gifted and can get out of the bucket. [But] that's not what my game is about. I'm all about the mental aspect of the game and approach of it and that's what puts me ahead, I think."
Smith did admit that he had a game in which he didn't handle defensive pressure very well.
"Syracuse did a really good job last year getting to me," he said.
"Most of that was a bad job of reading the defense on my part. That was a result of me not really understanding the offense fully. But at the end of the day, I'm a different player now and I've learned from it."
Smith sounded a little irritated that as a returning starter, he's just now getting noticed by the national media.
"Obviously they favor certain teams," he said. "And they enjoy others.
Did Smith get criticized too much over the past two years?
"Whether or not [the national media] broadcast me as a Heisman favorite or whatever means nothing to me because that's all it is, just media hype." Smith also said that the national media attention was a result of him "playing well this year."
So about that Heisman hype... how is he handling all of it?
"I don't listen to it," he admitted. "Not to disrespect the Heisman and their voters but that remains in the back of my mind."
Smith did admit that winning the Heisman would be a "boost in recruiting that we need," but he seemed to be emotionally detached as to what the Heisman would mean to him. Maybe it's his way of keeping his expectations low.
Maybe he really doesn't trust the media hype.
"We still have a long season to go and I'm not going to get caught up in to the hype because in all actuality, it really doesn't mean much. I could go out and do poorly in my next game and I'm pretty sure the third line's gonna be 'Geno fails.'"
Smith was also asked about how he felt about the naysayers downplaying the team's performance against perceived softer defenses.
"I couldn't care less about what people say about our performance," he answered.
"We go out and do our job from week to week. We let the media and the critics do their job which is to criticize. It blows over our heads because we've got work to do."
It almost sounded as if he had a chip on his shoulder. Guess what? He does.
Smith said that he goes into every game with the "exact same chip on my shoulder that I had when I was a freshman in high school."
His current chip on his shoulder is a result of what he perceived as criticism when he threw 31 touchdowns and seven interceptions. He was presumably referring to last year's stats.
"People still don't think you're good enough," he explained.
They probably do now.
Smith also said he hasn't reached his peak yet, which must scare the rest of the Big 12 teams on the Mountaineers' schedule. There's more fun ahead?
Why, yes. Yes, there is.
To all those naysayers out there, Smith has a simple message:
"Just watch us play."
Smith may come across as cocky, arrogant and somewhat emotionally guarded, but he also keeps it real.
"Whether [it's] a schematic advantage we have or an athletic advantage that we have, it doesn't really matter because the name of the game is to score one more point than the opposing team."
Charlie Weis would approve.
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