West Virginia vs. Texas: Predicting How Geno Smith Will Fare vs. Longhorns
West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith has just thrown another touchdown pass. And if he plays the way I think he will against another vulnerable defense, he will make everyone in college football a believer.
Smith has been the best player in college football, as he is completing 83 percent of his passes, thrown for more than 1,700 yards, has 20 touchdown passes and has yet to throw an interception. Did I forget to mention that West Virginia is only four games into the season?
The Heisman ballots have already been submitted, and every writer in America has the senior quarterback winning it.
But before we get carried away with ourselves, this week’s game against Texas should be the single-caller's toughest task yet in 2012. The Longhorns did return eight starters from a defense that was the best in the Big 12 last season and also ranked 11th in the country. Smith has yet to face a defense like this at all this season and probably not since he played LSU more than a year ago.
Who wins the big matchup?
This will be an interesting chess match between two units that are supposed to be one of the best in the country. The problem is that the Longhorns have not lived up to their end of the bargain, as the defense is currently ranked seventh in the Big 12 and allowing 390 yards of total offense. Last week, Oklahoma State produced 576 yards of total offense, while Ole Miss was one yard shy of dropping 400 total yards.
Uh, news flash, this West Virginia has an offense that is much better than those two you have faced recently.
Texas has allowed seven plays of more than 40 yards and given up 74 first downs in four games. The defense has looked nothing like it did a season ago, and many fans in Austin should know what to expect when the Mountaineers come to town. Texas head coach Mack Brown doesn't even need a scouting report to know what his team is in for this weekend, according to a report by Carter Strickland of ESPN.
There are highlights on there. Brown said. It was Geno talking. It was the receivers talking. It was eight touchdowns. It was breaking a national record with 803 yards of offense. So we didn't need a scouting report.
Simply put, West Virginia is a scoring machine and has oodles of weapons to give any defense in the country headaches.
The only way to rattle the senior is to put pressure on him. I'm pretty sure Smith has not had to wash his jersey yet because he has absolutely all day in the pocket and is able to pick where and when he wants to throw the football.
Texas has some of the better defensive ends in Alex Okafor and Jackson Jeffcoat, players who can cause nightmares for opposing quarterbacks, but they haven't had much success early on in the year.
Smith does enjoy his time in the pocket like all quarterbacks, but he is also capable of getting rid of the ball quickly when needed. Last season, LSU finished the year with 38 sacks and only went three games without picking up at least one. One of those games was against West Virginia. However, the Tigers did force him to throw the ball when he didn't want to, which did force two interceptions and a 58-percent completion percentage.
If you allow Smith to have all day in the pocket, he will pick you apart. But if you go ahead and rush more than four guys, you have now put the secondary in a horrible position. Asking the defensive backfield to cover speedy receivers such as Stedman Bailey and Tavon Austin in man-coverage is a bit much, especially from a shaky secondary that missed many tackles such as the Longhorns.
Another thing that Texas defenders must be aware of is that Smith is capable of making plays with his feet. Although he finished the 2011 season with -33 rushing yards, he has racked up five plays of more than 10 yards with his legs through the first four games.
If Texas defenders aren't disciplined and don't rush the quarterback with caution, things could become that much more difficult for the defense.
Overall, this is a Texas unit that allowed freshman quarterback J.W. Walsh to throw for 301 yards and complete 66 percent of his passes. If first-year starting quarterbacks are carving up this Texas defense, I'm sure the overwhelming Heisman favorite will have a field day in Austin.
The senior has thrown no less than three touchdowns and has had at least 300 passing yards in each of the four games. You can expect a similar performance, as it is clear this Longhorns defense is not playing up to the standards we gave them in the preseason.
We know what the Longhorns defense is capable of, but we have yet to see any solid type of production. Smith will finally earn that marquee victory this weekend, and the bandwagon will receive a few more latecomers.
Note: All stats come from cfbstats.com unless otherwise noted.
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