Every Monday, NFL.com college football expert Bucky Brooks looks back on the weekend action and evaluates which prospects are rising and which are sliding.
1) Leadership: I have no concerns about Smith's leadership skills after what I saw Saturday. From the time the Mountaineers entered the field for pregame warmups until the conclusion of the game, Smith showed outstanding leadership qualities. He encouraged his teammates at every turn, refusing to hang his head when he turned the ball over on a pair of strip-sacks. Smith was obviously annoyed by the mistakes, but he didn't appear to wallow in self-pity, responding instead with improved play on the subsequent series.
2) Poise: Great quarterbacks are unflappable in moments of stress, and Smith clearly handled himself well. He took a beating at the hands of the Longhorns' defensive line, but his game in the pocket never changed. Smith consistently delivered accurate throws to his intended receivers, despite having rushers in close proximity. He refused to wilt under the pressure of constant harassment, and his courage under fire helped West Virginia make several critical conversions with the game on the line. Smith tossed three lasers to Stedman Bailey on slants for scores, despite having defenders in his face each time he released the ball; on each toss, he stood in and took the shot while making an accurate throw. Most quarterbacks alter their release point or delivery with contact on the horizon, but Smith's ability to fire an accurate strike under duress was a testament to his courage and poise.
3) Accuracy and anticipation: Many assume that a quarterback with a gaudy completion percentage is the product of a system predicated on making easy throws like bubble screens and swings. The Mountaineers certainly incorporate such concepts in their playbook, but I was impressed with Smith's ability to excel on intermediate throws from the pocket. He consistently delivered pinpoint passes to his receivers on short posts, square-outs and seams. I loved his rhythm as a passer and his ability to quickly transition from play-fake to delivery without skipping a beat. This skill will help him acclimate quickly to the pro game; he already understands how to reposition his feet in the pocket to make throws, so adjusting to three-, five- and seven-step drops will not be a problem.