WVU gearing up for Rutgers' Sanu
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- Immediately after returning from West Virginia's loss last week to Syracuse, junior quarterback Geno Smith and quarterbacks coach Jake Spavital watched film on the game.
Smith returned the next day to watch it again. And again. And again. After about the eighth or ninth time, he still was learning from his mistakes.
"Every time you look at film, you learn something new," Smith said, "and you figure out something you could have done."
Smith and the No. 25 Mountaineers look to rebound when they travel to Rutgers at 3:30 p.m. today at High Point Solutions Stadium.
Smith is coming off his worst performance of the year. He threw for 338 yards and two touchdowns but also tossed two interceptions and was sacked four times. He never looked comfortable in the pocket. Syracuse blitzed about 75 percent of the time. Often, Smith looked as though he was just waiting for the next hit to come.
West Virginia will face a similar pressure defense today. The Scarlet Knights are first in the Big East with 24 sacks. The defense also leads the nation with 25 turnovers. Rutgers has forced four or more takeaways in five of its seven games and at least one in each game this season.
Still, West Virginia's problems against Syracuse were not all Smith's fault.
"I think the offense as a whole didn't do a good job of going through our hot system," Smith said. "We have a good scheme, and we have things that we can do to combat the blitz, but I don't think we did a good job of that last Friday."
The hot system Smith involves receivers adjusting routes when there's pressure, allowing the quarterback to throw the ball faster. The Mountaineers receivers failed to do that, and Smith was left without many options.
"At receiver, we missed every side adjustment in the world, in the possible universe," said inside receivers coach Shannon Dawson.
The offensive line is also partly to blame. The West Virginia front five identified the blitz and picked up the pressure, but the linemen failed to win one-on-one battles.
"They wanted to get to the quarterback more than we wanted to block them," offensive line coach Bill Bedenbaugh said.
Despite that performance, West Virginia is confident it can get the job done.
"There's no need to put our head down," Smith said. "We went out there and didn't give enough effort, didn't fight back, didn't do what we need to do to win.
"This can't define who we are because we're better than what we showed."