Andrew Buie’s sudden emergence could make things all the more difficult on opposing defenses that are already struggling to contain the Mountaineers’ high-powered offense.
Smith and the fifth-ranked Mountaineers look to keep rolling Saturday when they visit a Texas Tech team hoping to bounce back from its first loss of the season.
After going 45 of 51 for 656 yards and eight touchdowns in a 70-63 win over then-No. 25 Baylor on Sept. 29, Smith threw for 268 yards and four scores in a 48-45 victory at then-No. 11 Texas last Saturday.
That result gave West Virginia (5-0, 2-0 Big 12) its best start since opening 7-0 in 2006.
“Every week, we’re going to go out and have fun,” said Smith, who’s thrown 24 TD passes without an interception and leads the nation with a 202.4 rating.
Smith got some unexpected help last week as Buie ran 31 times for 207 yards and two touchdowns, bringing balance to the offense and allowing Smith to establish season lows for passing yards and attempts.
Buie, a sophomore, had not rushed for more than 82 yards in his first 12 career games.
“Defenses are going to adjust, so if you run the ball that helps out the passing game,” offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson told the school’s official website. “We made an emphasis to run the ball, but it’s not an emphasis that we don’t make any week. If we see a team that is going to play with a weak box then we’ve got to run the football.
“You can’t let people play two-high coverage on you and sit there and keep throwing into it.”
The Mountaineers are averaging 570.8 yards and 52.0 points to rank third and fifth, respectively, in the country and figure to give Texas Tech (4-1, 1-1) all it can handle.
“There are going to be points scored. Somebody will have to score points to win games,” Red Raiders quarterback Seth Doege said. “Geno Smith’s a great player. He’s playing at a high level. He’s got his offense rolling right now. But we’ve got faith in our defense. They feel confident that they can play, and we feel confident that we’re going to put points up. …
“We’re excited about the opportunity, and we welcome the challenge.”
Texas Tech, though, is surely going to need a better effort from Doege if it hopes to keep up. The senior threw for 203 yards and a career high-tying three interceptions in a 41-20 loss to then-No. 17 Oklahoma last Saturday.
“Seth’s a guy who will battle back,” coach Tommy Tuberville said. “He’s made a lot of plays for us and we have all the confidence in the world in him.”
As good as West Virginia has been on offense, its inability to slow anyone down could give Doege a chance to regroup. The Mountaineers have surrendered 1,104 yards over their last two games and rank ninth in the conference with 35.0 points allowed per contest.
“From what I’ve seen, there is an opportunity there to move the ball and score points,” Doege said. “Regardless what defense we’re going against, that is our goal as an offense. We feel like we have the talent and the coaches and everything in place to be one of the most explosive offenses in the country. That is the way we approach every game.
“We’ve prepared. We’ve practiced better than I’ve ever been a part of around here. It’s just a matter of time that we get it all together and perform on Saturday.”
The Red Raiders have given up an average of 48.8 points in losing six of seven versus ranked foes.
Texas Tech lost the only meeting with West Virginia 7-6 in 1938.