One of the biggest takeaways from West Virginia’s 44-27 win over North Carolina State Saturday was the play of the young true freshmen. But one guy in particular really caught my eye. Tykee Smith.
There’s no question about it, West Virginia’s secondary is extremely thin, young and inexperienced. In a perfect world, none of these true freshman would be playing or if they did, it would be sparingly. However, the perfect world does not exist so they are forced to grow up quickly and they’ve answered that challenge.
After getting his feet wet with two tackles against James Madison, Smith had himself a decent day racking up five tackles in the team’s blowout loss to Missouri. This week, Smith elevated his play and finished with three tackles and two key pass breakups.
Earlier in the week, defensive coordinator Vic Koenning talked about how he didn’t want his guys to hesitate. “I know we’re going to make mistakes, I just want them to make the mistakes going full speed,” Koenning said. I think it was evident that Smith heard that message loud and clear. He played full speed at all times and never got too caught up in the moment.
Koenning has repeatedly said that the young guys will continue to earn more in-game reps the better they perform. Smith has certainly improved week by week, and although they appear to be baby steps, they are steps that are much needed.
Learning the playbook and system will come with time, but playing aggressive and confident are two things that Smith has done to continue to earn more playing time. Most true freshman will tend to hesitate, look lost, confused and often times out of position causing them to miss an assignment. Not for Smith.
For the time being Smith is playing at the “Cat” safety position behind redshirt junior Sean Mahone, who has done a fairly good job through three games. However, if Smith continues to make strides each week, do not be surprised to see him fighting for a starting spot. He possesses a ton of potential and has great upside and having early success will not only benefit him, but Mahone as well who may have to fight for his job later down the road.
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