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Geno Smith is off to a historical start to the 2012 season, but where does he fall on WVU's all-time list of great quarterbacks? Could he be the Mountaineers' best ever?
Just scroll through the Shotgun/Throwdown and Sunday Hangover posts from this weekend and it doesn't take long to notice the ridiculous amount of publicity heaped on Geno Smith. Not to say he doesn't deserve it, because he absolutely does. You just don't see this kind of offensive production everyday. Or ever, if you've been around Morgantown long. The Geno Smith Hype Train is running at full steam, and it's darned near impossible to turn on ESPN or click on any site that covers college football---or sports in general---without seeing some mention of Smith and his absurd stat line against Baylor. We're running out of adjectives to describe his play the same way the stadium sound crew was running out of songs to play before someone kicked off on Saturday. Heck, the Texas defense will probably be foaming at the mouth by the end of the week after hearing all week about how good Geno Smith, Stedman Bailey, Tavon Austin, JD Woods and the Mountaineer offense are.
At this point, we really can't say anything that hasn't been said about Saturday's performance and all the records that were broken. So let's step back and look at this from a distinctly WVU historical perspective. Where does Geno Smith fit in among WVU's all-time great quarterbacks? And really, there have been some good ones. Oliver Luck. Jeff Hostetler. Major Harris. Marc Bulger. Pat White. Those guys won games, broke records, captured the hearts of Mountaineer faithful, were invited to Heisman Trophy ceremonies and went on to play in Pro Bowls and win Super Bowls. It's a surprisingly good list for a school that has never won a national title or had a Heisman Trophy winner. Can we really just slot Geno in at the top of that group based on a really good 2011 season and historically magnificent 4 games in 2012?
Obviously, there are a number of factors that complicate the analysis. Some guys didn't play a full career in Morgantown. Others played in an entirely different system. They played against varying degrees of competition and wound up having varying degrees of success professionally. Highlight-reel plays and huge wins certainly helped some leave an impression.
I don't think I'm reaching too far to say that Geno is the best of all of them. Yes, we have a lot of football left to play. Yes, he didn't have the type of freshman year that Pat White did in 2005 when he led WVU to a Sugar Bowl win over Georgia. True, he likely won't will the team to an undefeated regular season like Major did in 1988. He's going to finish his career with 2 bowl losses. But with what he's doing right now on the field and the potential he has going forward, including in the NFL, there has never been another better. Any losses from here on out? Probably the fault of the defense. Invite to New York for the Heisman ceremony? Already in the mail. NFL draft stock? High and still rising.
Short of a total collapse by Geno or the team in general, 2012 will likely go down as the most prolific offensive season ever at WVU. Not just to date. Ever. Think about that. We have a Heisman frontrunner at quarterback and our top two receivers will likely be first-day NFL draft picks. We have a veteran offensive line to protect them and, when Shawne Alston and Ryan Clarke are healthy, an adequate running game to complement them. I'm as optimistic as the next guy, but it's doesn't stretch credulity to say we may never again have this kind of veteran offensive weaponry. 45 of 51 for 656 yards and 8 touchdowns with 0 interceptions? Please. Enjoy the show while you can because it's a once in a lifetime event.