Calm, Cool and Collected

While the poise possessed by WVU freshman quarterback Geno Smith was the story of the Mountaineers' 24-7 victory over Marshall, the quiet confidence the young signal-caller displayed was something he said comes naturally.

Smith's mother, Tracey Sellers, was the topic of much discussion when the quarterback spoke to the media Tuesday evening.

When broadcasters and scribes alike asked the Miramar, Fla., native just how he acquired the ice water that apparently flows through his veins, he pointed to his upbringing time and time again.

"She's tough on me," Smith said. "She has that tough love down pat. I really appreciate her for that because it's made me who I am today."

That tough love even extended to the quarterback's performance against the Herd.

After going in early for an injured Jarrett Brown, the signal-caller started slowly before going 10-of-12 passing in the second half for 117 yards and a touchdown. In the process, he led West Virginia back from a 7-3 halftime deficit to win easily.

It was a hugely successful performance for Smith, as the MU game represented his first meaningful action as a college football player. While his mother was not in attendance, he called her afterwards. Smith said she offered him congratulations, but then quickly changed the subject.

"Right after the game, she was telling me to stay on my school and stuff," he said.

WVU head coach Bill Stewart shared some of Smith's past during his weekly news conference earlier Tuesday, saying that Sellers had made a habit of driving her son to school and picking him up every day after football practice.

When he and a friend would arrive home, they would work on their homework before settling in to play more football -- this time on their video game consoles. Eventually, they would have dinner and a relaxing evening at home was well underway.

That experience may have had a lasting effect on Smith. The quarterback said he thinks some of his friends may think he is a loner because he so strongly prefers a night in his room playing games, watching television or studying his playbook to going out on the town.

"I just like to relax," Smith said. "I don't really like the night scene or being around a lot of people I don't know."

Part of that time relaxing involves studying the game he loves. Smith said he often finds himself on the computer, searching YouTube for clips of Tom Brady and Peyton Manning or great NFL quarterbacks from years gone by.

He said he admires Manning's ability to execute a play-action fake effectively. In Brady, he sees the type of calm, even demeanor he aspires to possess.

"I just like playing football," Smith said. "I want to be one of those great ones. Until I achieve that, I'll still be doing the same thing."

For now, that means serving as a backup for Brown.

While the Mountaineers' starting quarterback appeared unlikely to play this Saturday against Connecticut after being unable to practice Sunday due to the concussion he sustained against Marshall, Brown returned to practice on Tuesday and took his normal repetitions with the first-team offense.

The uncertainty surrounding who will start against the Huskies is something Smith hadn't experienced before, but he said his preparation remains unchanged whether he will start or back up Brown.

"Being a backup quarterback, you're always one play away (from being in action)," Smith said. "You always have to prepare yourself as if you're the starter."

As a student of the game, the true freshman has taken the time to complete dissect his performance from the Marshall game. He saw things he did well and things he needs to improve upon after studying the film.

"I was comfortable from the start, but after I took my first hit -- which kind of knocked the wind out of me, but I got up and got through it -- I was just ready to play from there," Smith said.

"I think I made a couple of good reads and made some good throws here and there. Some things I feel like my judgement could have been a little bit better -- on a couple of those run reads and a couple of those throw reads as well."

Still, the fact remains that few true freshmen ever even see the field at quarterback in major college football -- let alone play as well as Smith did against the Herd. He said he felt like arriving in Morgantown a bit earlier than some other freshmen helped speed his development along.

"(After) those first couple of weeks of camp, I pretty much had the playbook down," Smith said. "It was just basically about learning how (offensive coordinator Jeff Mullen) wanted us to read it and how we should go over the plays."

"I'm always trying to get all the mental reps I can and be the best I can on a daily basis."

That is a message that his mother has reinforced throughout his life.

"I know she's very happy and pleased with everything I do, but she always wants me to do better," Smith said.

"I wouldn't say she was strict. She trusted me and my decision making. I made a lot of decisions on my own, but she preached to me about staying focused and being the best person I could be every day."

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