Eight was enough, WVU QB Smith's focused on Texas
"He's just got a drive and a love for the game which I've never been around," said Spavital, who as a graduate assistant worked with Oklahoma State's Brandon Weeden and Houston's Case Keenum. "Hopefully that just keeps trickling down to our other players, because they see the success he's having and the attention he's getting."
During the offseason, Smith studied both this year's opponents and NFL quarterbacks, including Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers and New England's Tom Brady. Looking for tips to incorporate into his own game, Smith raved about Rodgers' foot work and decision making, Brady's pocket presence and focus downfield.
Several of Smith's TD tosses against Baylor were long, accurate throws, which Spavital said he wasn't so good at a year ago. Smith's offseason strength conditioning and work on his foot speed have paid off.
"When it comes to the deep ball, if you look at how he threw it last year, he was kind of winding up and he was dropping the ball a bit," Spavital said. "He was trying to get as much torque on his arm as possible. Now he's eliminated that and he's just worked on a fluid motion and keeping things consistent."
On Monday, when WVU doesn't practice and players aren't required to formally gather to watch film, Spavital said he got a text message from Smith, who makes it a habit of looking at video on his iPad.
Smith wanted to know what the game and formation plans were for Texas. Spavital, in turn, often relays Smith's ideas to coach Dana Holgorsen and offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson.
The same day, wide receiver Stedman Bailey got a text message from Smith with suggestions based on what he watched on Texas.
"It's a good deal to have him chirp in, because if a quarterback really likes the play, I'd think you'd want to run it out there in the game," Spavital said.
Spavital said he's had discussions with Smith about his constant presence in the film room, even suggesting the quarterback "leave here, go be a college student and have some fun."
But Spavital added that fun for Smith is playing football.
"The happiest he is is when he walks out there on the field," Spavital said.
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