Geno Smith’s former teammates, coach lament lack of leadership in 2012

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In the weeks preceding the 2013 draft, plenty of anonymous sources gave damning assessments of former West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith.  Now, folks are firing shots at Smith with their names attached.  Even if they aren’t mentioning his name.

Despite speaking in generalities, the message from both former teammates and Smith’s head coach in Morgantown is clear.

It started last week during a press conference.  Per Chris Adamski of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (via Rich Cimini of, Holgorsen talked about leadership.  Or, more accurately, the lack of it.

“We have to develop leaders,” Holgorsen said.  “It was a big issue on last year’s team — in a bad way.”

Again, Smith’s name wasn’t uttered.  But if the quarterback who came out of the gates with eye-popping stats and Heisman hype wasn’t in a position to lead, who was?

Some players have echoed Holgorsen’s remarks, also without mentioning Smith by name.

“Last year we didn’t have, you know, a lot of leadership,” running back Dustin Garrison said.

“I feel like last year, we fell apart,” running back Andrew Buie said.  “At certain moments where we needed to be a team, we weren’t a team.  So that was a big thing that [Holgorsen] preached all offseason: Team. Team. Team.  I honestly feel like as a whole team offensively, defensively and with special teams, we’re more of a unit as a team.  More together.”

“What’s different this year is we’re more a team,” offensive lineman Quinton Spain said. “There ain’t no I’s; we don’t depend on nobody.  We just depend on all of us at once as a team.  So I think this year will be better than last year.

“There wasn’t no team.  I could say there was a team early, but once we started losing we saw the I’s come up, so it just hurt the team worse.”

“I just feel like across the board there’s no one person on the team who stands out more than any other,” defensive tackle Will Clarke said.  “There’s not one person who’s getting a lot more media coverage or this much attention from certain national attention than the rest of us.  We’re all pretty much on the same level.  We’re all using that to try to just work together.”

The three players who got the national attention last year were Smith first, then receiver Tavon Austin, followed by receiver Stedman Bailey.  And while each arguably shares responsibility for the lack of leadership, the quarterback at every level is the primary leader of a team.

For the Rams, it’s not much of an issue; no one expects Austin and Bailey to become leaders, especially not right away.  But if Smith becomes the starter in New York as a rookie, he needs to become a leader sooner rather than later.

If he couldn’t or wouldn’t do it at Morgantown, it’ll be even harder in the NFL.

61 responses to “Geno Smith’s former teammates, coach lament lack of leadership in 2012

  1. Wow everyone talked about the 3 guys who were good enough to go pro? Weird. … or you know, normal.

  2. All the more reason why if you are the Jets you need to make sure you have a damn good QB Coach AND Head Coach to develop Geno the right way and give him and help him with that which he is missing. And it’s my opinion that the Jets are making a horrible mistake right now on sticking with Rex Ryan because I don’t think he understands QBs or how to train them or manage them.

    I understand he has a QB Coach too, but he seems to only have a lot of 1 year stints as QB coach and I wonder why. Moreso, the Head Coach, while he doesn’t have to be a QB guru, it makes football life a lot easier if you are one. If you aren’t then get a job as a Defensive Coach or something you are a good fit for and qualified to do.

  3. The head coach blames the QB for a lack of leadership? Well where was the HC? Isn’t that his job? And he criticizes Smith publicly? I wouldn’t want my kids to play for this guy.

  4. Why does everything always have to be about the quarterback? West Virginia’s DEFENSE last season was a sieve. Check the final scores. You can’t allow 50 points per game and expect to win. Not complicated.

  5. So Smith’s name wasn’t mentioned by anyone not one player and not one coach yet somehow this is a negative article about Smith?
    Leave the guy alone. I don’t care how good of a leader you are you can’t carry a team of 75.

  6. When the leaks came out around draft time, Holgorson was asked point blank about Geno Smith and Holgorsen raved about his leadership. Did deeper… He either lied or he should be more specific in his most recent comments

  7. micknangold says:
    Aug 11, 2013 7:38 PM

    More anti-Jets propaganda. JETS vs. the World!

    LOL, look it’s a Jets fan.

  8. I blame the QB also. In between your 7 on 7 and 11 on 11 drills, get your butt over to the defensive team meetings and figure out a way to not get 50 points scored on you every game……It is NOT, I repeat NOT the Head Coach’s job to provide leadership for the team……

    NOTE to Black QB’s in college:

    BE prepared to scheme on defense in addition to playing QB….I truly believe the QB gets too much credit when a team wins and too much blame when they lose….

    there is a reason it’s called team. NO one player can, and ever does it all. Holgerson is an idiot!!!!!!

  9. yet if Austin fell to the Jets and Geno went elsewhere (perhaps the Giants instead of Nassib) we’d be hearing how the Jets drafted a diva WR who didn’t lead the way for WVU.

    You guys are unreal.

  10. I am sure the defense giving up 50 points a game didn’t have anything to do with them losing.

  11. youarejealousof6rings says: Aug 11, 2013 7:56 PM

    micknangold says:
    Aug 11, 2013 7:38 PM

    More anti-Jets propaganda. JETS vs. the World!

    LOL, look it’s a Jets fan.


    If you weren’t a troll that probably doesn’t even like football I might take offense to this. Actually, I wouldn’t anyway because Roethlisberger is a sexual predator that you classy Steelers fans just LOVE.

  12. So now teammates and the coach wanna throw him under the bus. Sounds like pure jealousy to me.

    Also, by the quotes, it sounds like there are some guys who need to go to class. The grammar was atrocious.

    The man is in the NFL now. Judge him moving forward. Good thing he didn’t have 1/2 the issues of Manziel or he would never have gotten this far. No arrests, no alcohol related problems and no NCAA violations. But we need to taint him before he takes a real snap, in case he can really play.

  13. The problem with this criticism is the fact that Geno Smith is only 22. So if a college team had issues with leadership and the players are around 21 & 20, I’m pretty sure that’s on the head coach staff, not the players.

    While I’m not an I person due to martial arts and what not, I’m currently 21, I know a lot of athletes who lack leadership and maturity and the ones who learn it usually do because of the supporting case. I know one thing for sure, I never want to player for Geno’s former team while their coach is still there. It’s obvious he can’t run a ship.

  14. He tainted himself at the draft, it really showed how self centered of a young man he is. He will not succeed in NY. He will get thrown into the fire way to early and get torched out of town by the NY media.

  15. A college HC putting the non leadership tab on a kid who’s playing for him? smh. This coach need to smack himself ,that defense was horrid. Gotta save face I guess.

  16. Did you read this article Warren Moon….his teammates as well as the coach….and all you guys bad mouthing the coach…he is talking about leadership on the field ..leadership among the players….if anyone watched any of their games….you could quickly notice Smith was not a leader…he didn’t carry himself like one either…look at his behavior at the draft…he acted like a 12 yr old….very questionable behavior that was brought out in those that were called racist for correctly evaluating him….now who is right???? To all you people crying racist….you are the racists… are very stupid because the truth always comes out…….

  17. Have another drink Dana… If I’m a college coach competing for a recruit with this clown, I’m making sure the recruit reads the articles where Holgorson is throwing past players under the bus.

  18. Shame on Holgorsen. He’s laying that out in public at a time when the person he is most likely talking about is trying to secure his position as a professional ball player.

    Well, Holgorsen, I’ll tell you something else your team could use, your professionalism–if you can muster any. Did you notice how team members responded once you dished? You gave them permission to pile on this issue. Not a good example for these young men.

  19. “Leadership” is such a cliche, these guys are all big boys, if they need to be “lead” or “inspired” by somebody in order to play football, they should probably look to do something else.

  20. They bought a first round talent with 3rd round on the field character concerns in the second round, enough said

    Only 2nd round NYJ players get talked about this much

  21. The truth is there was an off the field incident that caused a riff between 2 of the 3 in the middle of the season. I’m sure Florio can find the information if he digs deep enough. Lets just say its fitting where the 3 ended up in the pros. What goes around comes around.

  22. scmems07 says:
    Aug 11, 2013 8:45 PM
    Looks like nawrocki was right again, lack of leadership, lazy, but he was a racist right….was dead on about Newton too.

    What exactly was Nawrocki “dead on on about Newton too.” about??? Did he predict that Cam would break the rookie Passing record, Rushing record, All-time Rushing TD record by a QB and win the R.O.Y.? Did he predict that Newton would have the most productive first 2 seasons IN THE HISTORY OF THE NFL at the QB position??? Because that’s what Cam did!!! What exactly was Nawrocki dead on about???………

  23. Played in a simplified, run-first, dive-option read offense with very basic high-low reads. Worked exclusively out of the gun and was very quick to run at the first flash of coverage. Limited field vision — does not process the passing game. Inconsistent throwing mechanics with a flick delivery — generates all of his power from his upper-body strength and too often arms the ball. Streaky passer with spotty accuracy. Makes his receivers work hard and throws into coverage. Does not spin a tight spiral. Very disingenuous — has a fake smile, comes off as very scripted and has a selfish, me-first makeup. Always knows where the cameras are and plays to them. Has an enormous ego with a sense of entitlement that continually invites trouble and makes him believe he is above the law — does not command respect from teammates and always will struggle to win a locker room. Only a one-year producer. Lacks accountability, focus and trustworthiness — is not punctual, seeks shortcuts and sets a bad example. Immature and has had issues with authority. Not dependable.

    Pretty spot on, put his teammates and coaches under the bus while losing and pouts when they do lose yet seems to always get his celebration on when losing by 3 td’s, still has yet to lead his team to a winning record and has 3 wins against teams with winning records. After game 5 of his rookie season has been mediocre at best but fans now a days are fantasy fans so because he runs people think he is great. Has almost as many turnovers as td’s. But let me guess….your going to blame the defense and coaches right

  24. @bugblu73,
    The short answer to you question is the character and leadership concerns. Cam had two good stats years and there is no reason to believe he would fail the physical part of the position in the future. Mentally he needs to get better and it looks like he may be starting that. Mental toughness/awareness /leadership wins the tough games where physical skills are not quite enough. Cam will win you a fantasy league game but fans probably prefer wins in real games before the season is shot.

  25. Geno is more interested in becoming a wealthy man than an NFL quarterback.
    Hiring an agent who isn’t really an agent tells us that much.

  26. I don’t know New York Jets rookie QB, Geno Smith, and I’m not a pro football scout. I don’t even root for the Jets. And maybe I’m way off base (Ok, wrong sports metaphor), but… College football teams have somewhere in the range of 100 players, with around 60 suited up for each game. Coaches and players on Smith’s alma mater, West Virginia, claim that last season, when Geno Smith was their QB, there was a lack of leadership. And they do it in a way that reeks of cheap shots aimed at Smith after he’s left the team. So, let me get this straight: West Virginia has 100 players on its roster and not a single frackin’ leader? And that’s Smith’s fault? That’s like generals blaming the grunts who died in the trenches for losing the war. Lack of leadership? Ya think? Coach? Hello?

  27. The head coach blames the QB for a lack of leadership? Well where was the HC? Isn’t that his job? And he criticizes Smith publicly? I wouldn’t want my kids to play for this guy.


    At what part did he blame the QB for lack of leadership? Did you actually read the article or just the headline?

  28. This seems appropriate…

    “Losers assemble in little groups and complain about the coaches and the players in other little groups, but winners assemble as a team.”

    — Bill Parcells, 2013 HOF Induction Speech

  29. No big deal, people said the exact same thing about Russell Wilson. Oh wait, they say the exact opposite of Rusell Wilson. I guess jets fans are still boned.

  30. micknangold says:
    Aug 11, 2013 8:14 PM
    youarejealousof6rings says: Aug 11, 2013 7:56 PM

    micknangold says:
    Aug 11, 2013 7:38 PM

    More anti-Jets propaganda. JETS vs. the World!

    LOL, look it’s a Jets fan.


    If you weren’t a troll that probably doesn’t even like football I might take offense to this. Actually, I wouldn’t anyway because Roethlisberger is a sexual predator that you classy Steelers fans just LOVE.

    You two are perfect for each other. Grow up kids.

  31. Gee, it sounds like Nolan Nawrocki was right.

    I guess now we’ll see all those who labeled Nawrocki a racist for his analysis on Smith come out and apologize for their rush to judgement? Nah, I didn’t think so.

  32. This coach was raving about Geno & backing up his draft stock. Now he’s throwing him under the bus? Holgorsen has lost total credibility. If there was a lack of leadership at WVA you can see where the source of it comes from.

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