West Virginia's Smith nearly perfect vs. Baylor

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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- Ever the perfectionist, West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith likely watched replay of the spectacle Saturday against Baylor into the wee hours of Sunday morning on his iPad.

He likely picked apart six incompletions, or the one-armed grab by J.D.Woods that he noted postgame could have been picked off.

One thing we know for sure: His performance Saturday made him the clear front-runner in the Heisman Trophy race to any college football fan with a pulse.

It was a spectacle never seen before on Mountaineer Field, and though helped by a less than impressive Baylor defense, will stand up in Division I-A among passing performances of all time.

With incredible efficiency -- he completed 45 of 51 passes -- and ridiculous accuracy -- he hit his top receivers multiple times with perfectly placed balls -- Smith has the kind of statistics seen a year ago by Heisman winner Robert Griffin III of Baylor.

Through four games a year ago, Griffin had 1,481 yards, Smith has 1,826.

In the same time span Griffin had an 82.1 completion percentage, Smith's is 83.4 percent.

And perhaps most impressive, Griffin had 18 touchdowns and one interception. Smith has thrown 20 touchdowns without an interception.

Even West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen, who is not an effusive, gushing figure, could hardly contain how impressed he was.

"He was 45 of 51 for 656 yards and 8 touchdowns and zero interceptions," Holgorsen said. "Can you please explain to me how you can improve on that?"

Smith could.

"I could've completed those five or six passes that I had incomplete," he said. "We didn't score that first drive. We had a couple of drives that stalled, a couple situations where I forced some balls and I could've scrambled and picked up 3 or 4 yards."

Baylor coach Art Briles, who watched Griffin go through this a year ago, was equally impressed.

"I thought Geno was exceptional, which he has been for the past few years," Briles said. "[Saturday] he certainly earned his cause for postseason awards."

The national pundits were wild about Smith Sunday morning, his performance leading the tease-in of ESPNs "SportsCenter."

And Holgorsen knows that will hardly change a thing.

Texas is up next Saturday, on the road, a game that has long had a star next to it for the challenge it will pose to the Mountaineers.

"He's the one kid on our team that's not fazed by anything," Holgorsen said. "I don't care what you throw at him."

Smith said the Heisman is the last thing on his mind with the Longhorns up next.

"I could care less about the Heisman Trophy," he said, adding, "I don't want to just hang my head on one game."

NOTES -- Running back Shawne Alston never made it into the game Saturday and was not even visible on the sideline. Holgorsen said his job right now is to get treatment, and did not expand on his whereabouts.


Jenn Menendez: jmenendez@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1959.


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