"It actually came down to the game time," Smith said Monday. "I did try to give it a go. I warmed up before the game. It just wasn't up to par to feel like I could contribute in a way I needed to."
Smith's value to the offense has become more apparent through the season. He had no more than seven carries in the balanced rushing offense through the Yellow Jackets' first eight games. He had 10 or more carries in the next three games.
The senior has 75 carries for 673 yards and leads the ACC with his average of 9 yards per carry.
Smith's career average of 9.4 yards per carry is the highest of any active Football Bowl Series player with at least 1,000 yards rushing.
"He leads on offense, along with Tevin," said linebacker Quayshawn Nealy. "He's a big part of our success and we really are looking forward to having him back this week."
Smith ran for 11 touchdowns in 2011, when he had 615 yards rushing and averaged 10.1 yards per carry. He has only five rushing touchdowns this year.
Washington leads the team with 18 rushing touchdowns. His backup, freshman Vad Lee, is second with nine.
Smith said being able to look forward to the ACC championship game was the only consolation when he couldn't play in Georgia Tech's fourth straight loss to Georgia. But he said he wasn't held out last week just to help his chances of playing against Florida State.
"This game didn't really dictate if I was going to play last week, but it was in the back of my mind," Smith said. "If I could have played last week, I definitely would have been out there with those guys.
"Just to have the opportunity to have one more week to keep me going, it did kind of brighten me up a little bit. I still had a shot to get out there and play for something much, much bigger than that rivalry game."