He hasn’t said it and don’t expect him to say it, but, man, you better believe Geno Smith wants to win this Pinstripe Bowl.
He’s 0-2 as the starter against the Orange — and that follows WVU’s eight-game winning streak in the series. He’s been the one leading offenses that scored 14 and 23 points in the two losses. He was sacked nine times and he threw five interceptions.
The only other team that he has multiple losses to is LSU … and no offense to Syracuse, which did a fine defensive job two times against Smith, but the Orange are not the Tigers. And Geno lit up the Tigers in 2011.
Then again, maybe he hasn’t said he wants this one because maybe he isn’t consumed by this one. Maybe there were many other factors at play in those losses that explain the Mountaineers had more problems than just Smith. Maybe Geno understands that after all these years.
The reality is those are all true and WVU’s record-setting senior quarterback is better able now than ever before to realize his team’s failings don’t fall squarely on his shoulders.
“That’s how I’ve grown mentally,” he said. “I can look back three or four years ago and had I been in this situation, I probably wouldn’t have handled it well. I remember losing to UConn my first year starting (2010) and I had to go back home just to talk to my mom. I was down in the dumps and she picked me up.
“Now she’s calling me, like, ‘Are you OK?’ And I’m, like, ‘Yeah, I’m fine.’ That’s different for her, but I feel like I’ve grown a lot in that respect.”