MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- West Virginia University quarterback Geno Smith missed practice Thursday and Coach Dana Holgorsen's indifference about the nature of the news triggered a two-hour panic among the fan base.
Smith returned to his home in south Florida to be with his family after the death of his grandmother. Holgorsen said Smith will be back on campus by Monday, which is an off day for the football team and the first day of the fall semester of classes.
However, that confirmation had to wait until he met with the media at 7:30 p.m., two hours after the media was made to leave the 30-minute open part of practice. Pressed for information during the open portion, Holgorsen had a media relations employee tell the media he would address it later.
In between, as word of Smith's absence spread with the modern modes of communication, there was no information about the likely Heisman Trophy candidate.
"Damn that social media, right?" Holgorsen said. "I didn't invent it. Usually everyone knows what happened with practice when practice is over."
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WVU WILL unveil a plaque today honoring the late Bill Stewart in the west concourse of Milan Puskar Stadium. The display will be next to the plaque that commemorates the stadium's first game, a 41-27 victory against Cincinnati on Sept. 6, 1980.
Stewart, who died May 21 during a round of golf at Stonewall Resort, coached the Mountaineers from 2008-10. He was 28-12 in charge of WVU, including the 2008 Fiesta Bowl win in an interim capacity following the abrupt exit of Rich Rodriguez.
He resigned in June 2010 amid suspicion he was involved with compromising Holgorsen's eventual transition from coach-in-waiting to head coach.
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HOLGORSEN CONCEDED there was an unintended benefit to working out without Smith, the Big 12 Conference's preseason offensive player of the year. The snaps instead went to Smith's backups, sophomore Paul Millard and freshman Ford Childress.
Millard played only sparingly last season in place of Smith, including one possession in the third quarter of the Orange Bowl, when he was intended to play, but instead came out after an interception. WVU plans to redshirt Childress this season.
"Geno probably takes 50 percent of the reps, maybe slightly higher than that, and we split the other 40 percent approximately between the other two," Holgorsen said. "So they go from getting 20 to 25 percent of the reps to getting 50 percent of the reps, which means they get better."
Content as he was, Holgosen would rather not get used to the arrangement.
"Heaven forbid we're ever in a situation to put them in with the first string," he said. "Geno clearly makes everyone else around him better. You watch Ford and Paul, both who will rep with the first team, they don't necessarily make everyone else around them better."
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