Geno Smith's passing prowess has not only caught the attention of opposing coaches and pro scouts, but now a Texas Tech human development professor is weighing in on the subject.
Alan Reifman, who wrote "Hot Hand: The Statistics Behind Sports Greatest Streaks," writes in his analysis that Smith has not thrown an interception since the fourth quarter of last year's win over South Florida, a streak that has gone 257 straight attempts. The NCAA record is 379 set by North Carolina State quarterback Russell Wilson between 2008-09.
Reifman writes that if Smith averages 40 passes per game, then he could break Wilson's record when the Mountaineers host Texas Christian on Nov. 3. Smith has thrown 15 interceptions in 1,151 attempts during his career. Reifman figures that given that about 1 percent of Smith's career passes have been picked off, there is about a 30 percent chance of Smith breaking the record by throwing another 122 passes without an interception.
"Some observers may question the value of attempts without an interception," Reifman concluded. "Under this metric, a quarterback receives credit for throwing the ball away when no receiver is open. I and others have tried to pinpoint the NCAA record for consecutive completions without an interception without getting a final resolution."
Smith, he says, is not far behind the leaders, according to his research. Those would be Wilson (220) and Andre Woodson, (223), who was a quarterback at Kentucky between 2004-07. Smith has 206 straight completions.
"I'm aware of it, but I don't think about it," Smith said. "I don't go out there and try not to throw interceptions."
Smith credits having receivers "who don't tip the ball in the air" and run strong routes as the reason for his success. But he said Texas Tech, the Mountaineers' opponent on Saturday, will make continuing that string tougher.
"They do a great job of making it tough on the quarterback," Smith said. "They do a great job of reading a quarterback's eyes and reacting to the ball."
West Virginia University coach Dana Holgorsen said the first step in ensuring the continuation of a streak is to not discuss it.
"I know it's his stat, but if you think he's the only one who can control that, you're nuts," Holgorsen said. "The protection (from the offensive line) has to be good. You have to be able to run the ball to take the heat off the quarterback. When the ball is up in the air, it's up to the receiver to attack it and make sure it's ours and not theirs."
Holgorsen said Smith will throw a pass that lands in the opponent's hands at some point during the season.
He just hopes it comes at a time that won't prevent a Mountaineer win.
"Geno's got a lot more on his plate than to worry about some silly little streak that doesn't mean anything," Holgorsen said. "The most important thing to Geno is winning the game."