DALLAS — Geno Smith sat in a chair, surrounded by many of the folks who have declared him the Big 12 Conference's top offensive player, offered strong criticism of his mechanics and downplayed the performance that elevated his national profile.
“You guys, media, who evaluates this stuff didn't take it apart, but I'm on it,” Smith said of his own shortcomings, most notably, his downfield throws.
Discussing last year's Orange Bowl, when he threw for 407 yards and six touchdowns in a 70-33 rout of Clemson, Smith called it “overblown,” pointing to West Virginia's disappointing offensive outing against South Florida in the regular-season finale.
“People like to talk about the 70 points in the Orange Bowl, but in the game before that, we scored 10 points against South Florida,” Smith said.
His memory is a bit fuzzy — the Mountaineers beat USF 30-27 — but his point is still taken. West Virginia's offense accounted for 16 points — nine of them on field goals — and Smith threw no touchdowns and two interceptions in the win.
“I'm my biggest critic, and I'm not going to let those things go by,” Smith said.
So he went to see quarterback guru George Whitfield Jr. for help with his deep ball.
Name sound familiar?
Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones also spent a little time working with Whitfield this offseason.
“A lot of times when throwing the deep ball, you've got to put it to a spot,” Smith said when describing what he learned from Whitfield.
“It's not a high-percentage throw in the first place, so you have to make sure you put it in a spot where only your guy can get it, and at times I was trying to make the perfect throw instead of just giving my guys a chance to make a play.”
The two Whitfield pupils lead programs widely viewed as the best in the Big 12. Smith narrowly topped Jones in voting for the conference's preseason Offensive Player of the Year award, and the Sooners were the pick in the conference preseason poll over second-place West Virginia, entering its inaugural Big 12 season.