"People don't see all the things he's done for me,'' Smith said. "He took me from a boy who came in not knowing anything about college and a guy who made a lot of mistakes early in my career and molded me into a man with a lot of responsibilities. I'm able to say I can take care of my business now because of him and what he's done for me."
Bonds like that are not easily broken and Mullen hopes Smith sustains what they've built. If nothing else, Mullen believes they've created something that should prove valuable next season. Mullen says Smith is the type of player who can be dropped into a variety of systems and succeed.
"He's smart," Mullen said. "Everyone can see the physical attributes. It's the mental part you don't see. He'll pick up whatever system is given to him very quickly and adapt very well."
Smith completed 219 of 333 passes this season for 2,567 yards and 23 touchdowns - the completions and touchdowns are second behind Marc Bulger in WVU's single-season history. Holgorsen's quarterback at Oklahoma State, Brandon Weeden, was 317-for-470 for 4,037 yards and 32 touchdowns.
Before that, Houston's Keenum was 397-for-589 yards for 5,020 yards and 40 touchdowns in 2008 and then 492-for-700 for 5,671 yards and 44 touchdowns in 2009.
At Texas Tech, Cody Hodges was 353-for-531 for 4,238 yards and 31 touchdowns in 2005. The following two years Harrell was 924-for-1,329 for 10,255 yards and 86 touchdowns.
Smith hasn't thought about any of that, and for a reason.
"I'd be a bad quarterback to my teammates if I was thinking about selfish things like that,'' Smith said.
Holgorsen hasn't given things too much thought, either. In fact, he knows very little about his quarterback and saw him play only a little against Pitt. Smith was just 9-for-12 that day, but finished with 212 yards and three touchdowns.
"He looks to me like a big, physical guy I can work with," Holgorsen said of the 6-foot-3, 210-pound sophomore.
Holgorsen dismissed the idea there's a prototype for the position in his offense. He's had tall players and smaller ones. He's had throwers and runners. He's had winners and thinkers.
"A lot of that all ties together," he said.
The spread can feature the zone-read, which Smith became more and more comfortable with as this season progressed, and it can get multiple receivers open in space. It can feature the run or the throw or balance both. Intertwined is a key trait the quarterback must have and one Smith possesses after completing 65.8 percent of his passes and leading the conference in that and in passer efficiency rating.
"You've got to be able to throw," Holgorsen said. "Accuracy is real important. If the guy happens to be able to run the ball pretty good, that gives us an extra feature."
Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at mi...@dailymail.com or 304-319-1142. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/wvu.