Big 12 coaches took turns extolling the greatness of Geno Smith and the West Virginia offense Monday during a teleconference with reporters.
Perhaps the most impressed was Texas coach Mack Brown, whose No. 11 Longhorns (4-0, 1-0 Big 12) have the fun task of trying to slow down the Mountaineers, who top the nation in passing and are third in total yards per game.
Smith earned virtually every weekly honor, including being named the Davey O'Brien quarterback of the week after a record-breaking day against Baylor. He threw for 656 yards and eight touchdowns while going 45 for 51 in the Mountaineers' 70-63 win and made himself the early frontrunner for the Heisman Trophy. Smith leads the country in pass efficiency (208.4) and total offense (456.8) and hasn't thrown an interception in 169 passes.
"It's just unbelievable," said Brown, whose team hosts eighth-ranked West Virginia (4-0, 1-0) at 6 p.m. Saturday. "He hasn't made a mistake and there is a tremendous amount of pressure on him with trying to handle the Heisman stuff. We've been through that here with Colt [McCoy] and Vince [Young] and Ricky [Williams], and it's a very difficult thing to do. And he seems unbothered by it. He's got three of the best receivers I've ever seen."
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Brown joked that defensive coordinator Manny Diaz has barricaded himself in the office.
"I've been down there three times and he's got his door closed and he's under the desk," Brown said. "It's hard to communicate with the defensive staff. They're just sick. You're not going to stop [West Virginia], so you just have to figure out how to slow them down."
Other Big 12 defensive coaches might be doing the same, including Kansas coach Charlie Weis, who said defensive coordinator Dave Campo is probably not sleeping well. Kansas doesn't play West Virginia until the final week of the season, but many of the other Big 12 offenses are just as potent. Oklahoma State and Baylor are ranked Nos. 1-2 ahead of the Mountaineers in total offense.
"You look at it and go, 'How could that possibly happen?'" Weis said. "You look at it, and it's kind of scary."
Kansas State coach Bill Snyder's team plays at West Virginia on Oct. 20. He has one solution.
"I think you kidnap their quarterback," Snyder said. "That's the best thing you can do."
Holgorsen no stranger
West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen, with his up-tempo offense, is no stranger to the Big 12. He was Oklahoma State's offensive coordinator in 2010 when the Cowboys had the third-best offense in the nation. Cowboys coach Mike Gundy hired Holgorsen from Houston, which ranked No. 3 in 2008 and No. 1 in 2009 in total offense.
"Brandon Weeden was our quarterback and we were going to change philosophies from a run-pass style quarterback to a pure pocket passer," Gundy said. "and I felt like that gave us the best chance to have success and win games."
Before Houston, Holgorsen was Mike Leach's offensive coordinator at Texas Tech in 2005-07 when the Red Raiders' offense was flying high.
"They're having a lot of success on offense essentially running the same plays we ran here," Gundy said. "They're not having any issues scoring points. I think that's one issue we're all in agreement on."
Lunt's health better
Injured Oklahoma State quarterback Wes Lunt is expected to practice by the end of the week, coach Mike Gundy said. But replacement J.W. Walsh, a redshirt freshman from Denton Guyer High School, has thrown for 797 yards and eight touchdowns with two interceptions. Before injuring his leg early in a Sept. 15 game against Louisiana-Lafayette, Lunt had thrown for 588 yards and four touchdowns with three interceptions in three starts.
"Each day he gets a little bit better and moves forward," said Gundy, who is not in favor of using two quarterbacks. "Our coaches will have to come up with the best scheme and what gives us the best chance at success and scoring points."
But Gundy also said other options are possible.
"If J.W. continues to play and have success, it wouldn't be smart for us to not use him in some way," Gundy said.