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October 4, 2012
West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith has caught the attention of the entire country with the way he's played through the Mountaineers first four contests of the season, but there's one person that hasn't been surprised with what the senior has been able to do.
"He's doing well. We talked about this from the beginning, we knew we were going to be at this point from day one," quarterbacks coach Jake Spavital said. "This is where you want to be and this is where he likes to be and I think he's more comfortable being at the top of where he's at right now."
Spavital has watched Smith mature of over the past two seasons and has seen the time that the signal caller dedicates in the film room towards improving his craft.
"We try to tell him to leave here and be a college student and have some fun. But fun to him is going out there and playing football," he said.
For example, after misfiring on only six of his 51 attempts against Baylor for 656-yards and eight touchdowns, Smith was greeted by his mother in the Puskar Center. While you'd expect him to take a minute to celebrate the record setting performance, Smith instead handed his mother his box of pizza and went straight to work watching tape.
It's that dedication that's set him apart, Spavital said. And it doesn't just end in the film room; Smith also has tape on his iPad and has made that second nature as well.
"The happiest he is, is when he walks out there on the field," he said.
Smith also has spent a lot of his time watching NFL quarterbacks and their tendencies such as Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady, and if you watch when Smith is under center he's attempting to mimic Rodgers with his footwork, Spavital said.
"He's constantly trying to learn, constantly trying to improve," he said.
Each week, Smith plays a significant role in suggesting things to either add or take away in the game plan, and talks with the coaching staff about what he's seen in the film room and during the week in practice.
"The thing about it is, we can do anything in the playbook right now," he said.
And Smith did just that against Baylor by checking to a play that wasn't even in the game plan, which comes with more experience in the system.
"After one year of doing it, he's gotten extremely better than where he was last year at this point," Spavital said.
"Playing quarterback in this system you've got to be thinking every single play," Spavital added.