Geno Smith hates to lose.
That did not change as West Virginia's quarterback took stock of his season during the team's off week.
What may have changed?
How he handles the business of getting past the losing.
On Saturday, Smith and the No. 23 Mountaineers (5-2, 2-2 Big 12) return to play host to TCU (5-3, 2-3). They will try to put the past two lopsided defeats behind them and start the process of salvaging a season they believe is far from over.
Five games are left.
"The ball is in my hand the majority of the time and I control a lot of what's going on on the field, which is why I'm hard on myself because I want to win them all," Smith said earlier this week. "That's just the way I am. I'm not going to change that.
"But I'm not going to get down on myself. And when we do good, I'm not going to get too cocky. I'm going to remain the same person."
Smith was the darling of college football for five games, topping most pundits' lists as the favorite for the Heisman Trophy before lopsided losses to Texas Tech and Kansas State exposed a multitude of problems for West Virginia.
During that stretch Smith was not at his best. He threw just one touchdown pass in each loss, compared to 24 in the first five games.
He also threw his first interception of the season against Kansas State, snapping a streak of 327 consecutive passes that dated to last season. Later in the game he threw a second.
But the team's problems went far beyond their quarterback's performance, a fact head coach Dana Holgorsen spent a fair amount of time expressing in interviews the past two weeks.
It sounds as if Smith has gotten that message loud and clear.
"Dana knows that I am my biggest critic, and I'm always going to be hard on myself," Smith said. "I try to keep things in perspective and understand that it's a team game, and no one man can win or lose a game. It is 11 men on both sides of the ball including special teams, and we all have to come together and play as a team.
"It's not the end of the world -- we've lost two games. It's something that we don't want to ever want to happen, but you have to play the cards you're dealt with. Right now, we are in the situation where we just have to win."
Quarterbacks coach Jake Spavital told reporters this week Smith simply needs his mojo back, an internal joke they throw around for motivation.
"The main thing is we can't go out there and panic right now. The offense works. We know it does," Spavital said.
"The main thing is, as I said to Geno, is to get his mojo back. We always joke. We know he has it. I think he's going to be on a mission to go out there and this weekend and sling it around a bit."
Smith said he worked as hard as he always does, kept his confidence and is ready to go.
"I've continued to believe in my guys and believe in this coaching staff and just trust what's around me," Smith said. "I understand that my job is to play quarterback and quarterback only, and to not take on any other role. I'm going to do my job to the best of my ability and let things play out."wvusports
Jenn Menendez: firstname.lastname@example.org and Twitter @JennMenendez. First Published November 2, 2012 4:00 AM