The West Virginia Mountaineers took to a snowy Yankee Stadium Saturday, facing off with Syracuse in a game that matched former-Big East rivals.
The game was expected to be a quarterback showdown, but the snowy weather put a damper on most of the fireworks. Geno Smith wanted showcase his game and increase his draft stock, but the 38-14 loss took away from Smith's style of play.
The conditions were nowhere far from optimal for evaluation purposes, but it did give scouts the opportunity to see how well Smith could manage an offense in less than perfect conditions. It also gave scouts the chance to see how Smith handled unexpected pressures.
Smith put up a decent stat line going 16-of-24 for 187 yards and two touchdowns, but he also took two safeties in the game, one of which came on an intentional grounding call in the end zone.
From the start of the game Smith looked to be a bit flustered, and dropped passes by his receivers aided in the frustration that became apparent in Smith’s demeanor. After moving the ball into Syracuse territory on the game's opening drive, he struggle, then completing just three of his seven passes for 10 yards as the team fails to get on the scoreboard in the quarter.
He fared little better in the game's closing minutes as he completed two of three passes with a run for no gain in the fourth quarter.
This was not the best showing for Smith this season. It was actually one of the worst. His modest stat line was comparable to his numbers in a loss to Kansas State in October.
The composure was simply not there when it needed to be for Smith. He has the tools to be the first pick in the draft at quarterback, but the mental mistakes are difficult to overlook.
The intentional grounding from the end zone was a great coverage play by the Syracuse defense, but Smith had time to get rid of the football in the direction of a receiver before he bailed back into the end zone.
Later, Smith lost his place on the field, resulting in two more points for Syracuse and another failed WVU possession.
The points help, but the momentum swing is even bigger part of those types of mistakes. With every miscue, Smith flustered. The wheels fell off for the Mountaineers, but they began to rattle when Smith lost his cool.
By the time April rolls around, Geno Smith will be a high pick and likely the first quarterback taken in the 2013 NFL draft. He still has a lot of questions despite his raw talent as he heads to the professional ranks.
If he lands in the right pro system, Smith will thrive in the NFL. He must mature and maintain his poise once he reaches the next level, regardless of external conditions such as weather and poor team play.
Look for Smith to work his way into a starting role after a few years in the pros. He has plenty of potential, but a lot of polishing remains before he can dissect NFL defenses.