MORGANTOWN - The box score shows quarterback Geno Smith ran the ball eight times for a career-high 65 yards in West Virginia's season-opening win against Marshall.
That, believe it or not, rubs Smith the wrong way.
"People want to say I'm some sort of dual-threat now, but I'm not," he said. "I'm not a running threat."
Only half of that is true. Allow the Mountaineers to explain.
One of Smith's carries was a play that belonged on the blooper reel, but ended up on the highlight reel. His 28-yard touchdown run was supposed to be a handoff to running back Andrew Buie, but Buie missed the play call. Smith handed the ball to air and had to run. That it became a touchdown was merely an accident.
Another carry should have been a highlight, but became a blooper when a quarterback sneak on fourth-and-goal from Marshall's 3-yard line came up a yard short.
The other six times Smith ran were his decisions. He gained 37 yards. WVU isn't making Smith run the ball but Smith is making defenses respect his legs. The next test is Saturday, when the fifth-ranked Mountaineers (1-0) play FCS No. 5 James Madison (2-0) at 4:30 p.m. at FedEx Field, Landover, Md.
The game will be televised by Root Sports.
"We're going to utilize that in the future to at least force the defense to acknowledge the quarterback will run the ball if he gets out of the pocket," quarterbacks coach Jake Spavital said.
It sounds minor, but it could have a major impact. Smith's improvised runs assisted the offense simply because they moved the ball. He gained three yards, and had a look at the end zone, on a second-and-goal run. He picked up eight, seven and five yards on first-and-10 and later 12 yards on first-and-15. It helped the offense convert 5 of 8 third downs.
A year ago, WVU struggled on third down because it was frequently third-and-long. That was addressed in the offseason by having Smith study NFL quarterbacks like Aaron Rodgers who found a way to stare into a bad passing play and turn it into a positive running play.
That wasn't part of Smith's plans in 2011.
"When we got ready for him last year, we said, 'Look, he's not going to run it. He wants to throw it,'" said co-defensive coordinator Keith Patterson, who was Pitt's coordinator in 2011. "We wanted our defense to play him consistently and stop the pass because we knew he would look to throw first and he wouldn't run it."
That's changing and that excites the Mountaineers. Coach Dana Holgorsen's offense puts a lot of stress on defenses as it is, but Smith's willingness and ability to run only adds to the problems the Mountaineers present.
"It makes people think twice about rushing guys up the field hard and makes people think twice about dropping guys really, really deep in pass protection," Holgorsen said. "If they're really deep in pass protection, they better have a spy on him."