2012 Stats: 369 of 512 passing attempts, 4205 yards, 42 touchdowns, 6 interceptions
Geno Smith throws a beautiful deep ball and has adequate arm strength to make all the throws in the NFL. He has above average mobility, but runs to extend the play until someone comes open. He has above average speed for an NFL quarterback and showed the ability to extend drives with his feet when needed. He generally shows great poise under pressure and doesn’t give up on a play or the game until it’s over.
Offensive line play was wildly inconsistent while he was the starter at WVU as was the running game. It’s hard to believe that he didn’t have a 1,000 yard rusher to hand off to in his three years as a starter. His junior year highlights are very reminiscent of Ben Roethlisberger. He was able to shake off tacklers in situation he seemed all but guaranteed to be sacked and was able to make positive plays.
The down side to my comparison with Ben Roethlisberger is that has a tendency to hold on to the ball too long. He was able to get away with it while WVU was part of the Big East. But the increased talent level of pass rushers in the Big 12 showed how this tendency could work against him. It’s something he’s going to have to improve on at the next level as he adjusts to the speed of the NFL game.
The first two years were in the spread offense of Jeff Mullen. They were not pretty years. Although Geno was solid, the overall production was sporadic and the unit lacked an identity. To put it in perspective, an offense that included Tavon Austin, Geno Smith, Stedman Bailey, Jock Sanders, and Noel Devine ended up 67th in total offense on a steady diet of Big East teams.
The last two years in the Air Raid offense have been quite impressive and are probably much more familiar to the casual football fan. Both years, the offense finished in the top 15 in total offense and the top 10 in passing offense.
Smith was productive and efficient in both offenses and really blossomed when he was able to work with a coach known for developing quarterbacks. The NFL is coming around and finding a way to use elements of the spread and zone read offenses that seem to dominate the college and high school ranks. But Geno is versatile and has proven to be a hard worker in practice and the film room.
Everyone knows about the Orange Bowl against Clemson. But if you thirst for mind-blowing stats, nothing compares to the 2012 game against Baylor where he passed for 656 yard and eight touchdowns with no interceptions while completing 88% of his passes. Anything less, may have resulted in a loss for the Mountaineers.