G. Smith Speaks About Injury

by Greg Smith with Sammy Kardon | 10/19/01 5:00am

Last Saturday, in the first quarter of a 49-17 loss at Holy Cross, Dartmouth's All-American candidate quarterback, Greg Smith '02, broke the middle finger of his throwing hand to all but certainly end his spectacular season.

To that point, he was leading the Ivies in every major passing category and had rallied the Big Green to the point where it looked like it might have a shot to contend for a league title

This week, Smith had surgery on his hand at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, officially ending his season and possibly his career.

Here, Smith speaks about the season that was, the season that could have been and what he thinks the future holds for Dartmouth football and its new quarterback"freshman Evan Love.

It was like a dream season. I had played really well in the last three games last season, and me, coach [Offensive Coordinator John] Perry and all the senior guys talked about how special this season could be. I really wanted to make that happen. I had a lot of hopes about setting records and I wanted to win the Bushnell Cup [the Ivy League's Player of the Year award]. I came into the season wanting to win it and hoping to win and I knew that I could with the offense that I had. It's frustrating. All these things went through my head in the first ten seconds after I saw my hand.

I watched it on film today, and I saw that it was my fault. All the times we're in a "no-backs" set [when the quarterback is alone in the backfield], I have to throw the ball right away because we have "hot" coverage and the linebackers coming are not blocked. I hadn't gotten sacked on that set one time in the close-to-150 times we've run it. Saturday, I messed it up for the first time all season and I got hurt.

As a quarterback, you can't look at the pass rush or else you're screwed. You have to look downfield and read the coverage. I was going to throw to [junior receiver Matt] DeLellis '02 because he was open and probably would have gone out of bounds after 25 yards, close to a score. It would have been a tough throw, but I could have made it. I brought the ball back, but then I saw someone at the last second and I thought "Oh my God! The line didn't pick him up!" I pulled the ball in, to protect it, and my hand was exposed. He put his helmet right on my hand and hit me perfectly. On the film, you can see me as I get hit. I keep looking down at my right hand as I'm going down and as I hit the ground. I don't even see the linebacker as he's celebrating, I just never stop looking at that hand.

The surgery this week eliminates any chance that I had to be back for the last game of the season against Princeton, but it's the best thing for me to do to ensure that my hand is as close to the way it was as possible.

I should be able to throw a football in six weeks, just about in time for my annual Thanksgiving Day pickup game at my grandparents' place.

I think the team will be alright, though. We had a team meeting, with just the players, and everybody said some things, got some stuff off their chests about how the Holy Cross game went. We tried to take some positive things out of it.

We learned that Evan Love can play. I saw the film and he does a lot of things really well. I think he will be really good down the road. We just hope that he comes into his own sooner, rather than later. I watched the game and I was really impressed with him and how he handled himself. He made some mistakes, but that's to be expected.

He's also got a really good offense in front of him. He's stepping into a spot where it would be tough not to succeed considering all the weapons we have at wide receiver and tight end and our great offensive line. We are going to shrink down the play book a little bit and expand it as he learns more. Obviously, he doesn't have as much experience as I do, and he's got to go with what he knows right now.

He's not going throw 60 passes, but even if he throws 30 or 35 and most of them are play action, we'll be fine if he stays efficient. We'll still throw a lot.

That's what we do. Probably the best part of our team is the versatility of our receivers and our tight end. Those are the guys who are scoring points for us. We're still going to have to throw the ball to win, and that's not going to be different.

It's just like anybody else getting hurt on the team. If a linebacker goes down, you've got to put another linebacker in there. It's a little tougher, though, because we're not really deep at quarterback. We've got two freshman and a sophomore and [last year's starter] Brian Mann '02 is hurt.

It's kind of like the worst-case scenario for me to go down and being out for just enough games that it ruins my season. Everybody knew that.

The coaches knew that, the fans knew that, I knew that. But it happened so we've all got to deal with that.

You've just got to roll with punches. Yeah, I'm the guy who was getting all the headlines, but that always happens to the quarterback. A quarterback probably gets too much credit when a team's winning and playing well, and too much blame when the team's losing. If the fans are really down, that's fine, but the team has to be up. We can't have a mentality that it's an excuse for why we lost on Saturday, for why we played so poorly because I got hurt. I was just one part of a very good offense.

The truth of the matter is: we're 1-1 in the league and we have 0-4 Columbia this week. It's still possible for us to win out. It's not going to be easy, but it wouldn't have been easy anyway. Everybody's just got to play better. We've just got to focus on one game at a time.

We've got Columbia now and we haven't beaten them since we've been here, and coach just pointed out that if we don't beat Columbia, we'll be the only class in Dartmouth history not to beat Columbia. That's not to be proud of. They're 0-4. They're going to look at us and say "Their quarterback's hurt, we've got a shot at these guys and we're going to come out with everything we've got."

We've got to respond. We have enough seniors on the team who can convey how I feel"this is still the best team we've had since we've been here.

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