MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- In the most stunning development in a season in which he's produced a series of shockers, Geno Smith has managed to surprise even himself.
The West Virginia quarterback, the engineer of the eighth-ranked locomotive that speeds into Austin, Texas, for tomorrow's 7 p.m. game against No. 11 Texas, the unquestioned leader of the way-too-early Heisman Trophy popularity contest, does not understand why people make a big deal out of his obsession with football.
The study habits, the preparation, the review sessions, the odd hours, the relentless need to get better than he was even on a day like last Saturday, sounds ridiculous. To him, it's reality.
"I would think that most quarterbacks would do that, but it's turning out that I'm finding out it's not a trend around here," he said.
He insists his fascinating fixation is very normal, so you believe it. And why not? He just passed for 656 yards and eight touchdowns in a game - not a month. He's finished three games this season when his incomplete passes haven't outnumbered his touchdown passes - not a typo.
The truth of the matter is that on campus at WVU, what he says goes. If he wanted one busy day to beg out of that Spanish class he takes, he could make it happen with a simple por favor.
Now, that's unlikely, not because he lacks the leverage, but because the kid is a workaholic. For proof, consider what happened Saturday, not during the greatest passing performance in Mountaineers history, but after it as he started to prepare for the Longhorns (4-0, 1-0 Big 12) so that he might do a half a dozen things to make Gus Johnson scream all over the Fox broadcast.
WVU (4-0, 1-0) had won 70-63 and Smith was 45-for-51. He met with the media and grabbed the postgame meal, which, needless to say, was easily earned. He instead passed it off to his mom.
"He hands her the box of pizza and he and I go into the film room and watch the tape," quarterbacks coach Jake Spavital said, not able to smother his smirk, but not particularly bothered by that, either. "He can't get his mind off the game."
The meeting broke a while later and Smith went home, though with an iPad that was already fixed with clips of the Longhorns.
"I don't know that I've ever been around a kid whose blinders are as good as his," offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson said. "He has tunnel vision. He finishes one week, he puts it away and focuses on the next week."
The team reconvened Sunday, got the Bears out of their system and departed for a day before they were to return Tuesday to begin the three days of practice taking the team into the Texas game.
Smith sat down and watched NFL games and studied Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees and compared their mechanics to his.
The coaches met later Sunday and then Monday to put together a game plan. Smith made himself a part of their day.
"He comes in throughout the day and kind of chirps to us what he likes," Spavital said.