The Times West Virginian

Bob Herzel

September 15, 2013

HERTZEL COLUMN: Childress’ debut sparks Mountaineers

MORGANTOWN — It came about in mid-week, the inevitable, really.

The quarterbacks were in their meeting with Shannon Dawson, who is quarterback coach and offensive coordinator, which is in reality overlapping assignments.

It had been obvious the week before, on a trip to Oklahoma, that the quarterbacking wasn’t what head coach Dana Holgorsen wanted, leaving that trip with only seven points.

“Embarrassing” was the word Holgorsen had used to describe his offense in public.

We suspect it might have been something stronger in private.

There was going to be a change, the only question being whether he would go to Florida State transfer Clint Trickett or his tall, strong-armed redshirt freshman, Ford Childress.

Practice would tell. Monday’s workout came and went, Tuesday’s did, too.

On Wednesday, originally, the cat got out of the bag as Childress worked with the first team for the second straight day.

Then, at the meeting, Dawson spoke up.

“We’re going to go with Ford this week, and if he doesn’t play well we’ll re-evaluate,” Dawson said.

Childress almost couldn’t believe his ears.

Oh, in a way he was expecting it. As noted, he’d played with the first team an extra day and always he was leaning on something Dawson had said early in the year.

“Shannon was like, ‘You are going to play this year. You can’t goof off. You have to stay focused.’ So I knew I was going to play this year, and I acted like I was a starter,” he said.

Childress wasn’t sure how to react.

“I got really excited, but I tried not to jump up and down,” he said, half joking.

When the team was at Oklahoma having its problems, Childress had done all he could to keep things positive on the sideline.

“The backup quarterback should always try to give positive energy on the sideline,” he said. “That was my job last year. The first two games that’s pretty much what I was trying to do, get everybody around me excited.”

It was noticed by the coaching staff and went down on the ledger as another plus for Childress.

So now Saturday came around.

“I was a little nervous,” Childress admitted.

Like with 57,440 fans in the stands, who wouldn’t be nervous?

“After the first play, it went away,” he said.

Made sense, considering the first play was a 24-yard gain on a reverse.

Now it’s true the opponent wasn’t exactly Alabama, although if all goes well he’ll have that experience next year.

Instead it was winless Georgia State, a new Division I-A or whatever they are calling it these days, and WVU was favored by 38 points, so analyzing Childress’ debut is tricky.

Great, it was a freshman record at WVU, 359 passing yards, breaking Scott McBrien’s old record of 257 against Pitt in 2000, but how does 359 against Georgia State in Holgorsen’s offense match up with 257 against Pitt in Don Nehlen’s offense?

Certainly, Holgorsen liked it.

“Pretty good for the first game he has ever played in college football,” the coach said.

Holgorsen’s judgment wasn’t based just on the yardage and three touchdown flings.

“I look for different things than you do in completion percentage and yards,” he explained. “I thought his body language was good and that he handled everything well. He was communicating well with the running backs, receivers, in the huddle and with Coach Dawson. I thought he did a good job of just being in the game. That is what we were looking for. If you have a guy like that, then he can bring a lot of other guys along.”

In truth, a couple of the guys along for the ride were the other quarterbacks.

Through this competition they have become close, and when Childress threw his first TD pass, they greeted him with some leaping chest bumps.

“It’s great,” Childress said. “All of us like each other. There’s never that guy you always want to hit. They were supporting me all game.”

In a lot of ways this was the perfect game to break in a new quarterback. The outcome never was in doubt, and Childress was able to experience a lot of different things before having to do it in a hostile environment like Maryland next week.

“I got my first touchdown and I got my first pick, so … everything’s over now,” he said.

And next week he’ll be in M&T Bank Stadium, the Ravens’ home stadium, running the team again.

Email Bob Hertzel at bhertzel@hotmail.com or follow him on Twitter @bhertzel.

1
Text Only
Bob Herzel
  • WVU #6 SHORTS -TS.jpg WVU opens practice with different feel: VIDEOS AND PHOTOS

    West Virginia University football coach Dana Holgorsen was happy with his team’s first practice of the 2014 season.
    Of course, he would note, “Everybody in the country has a good first day.”
    But somehow, this was different.
    Very different.

    August 1, 2014 9 Photos

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Social media adds another thing to watch for coaches

    As someone who has gotten himself in enough hot water with a misplaced Tweet, when West Virginia University quarterback Clint Trickett hit the send button on July 17 sending out to the cyberworld what should have remained there with him on the couch on which he was sitting, I could feel his pain.

    August 1, 2014

  • WVU basketball non-conference schedule released

    After playing challenging schedules along with the tough Big 12 road, West Virginia University has backed off some this season on its non-conference schedule that was released Thursday.
    West Virginia is coming off a 17-16 season in which it failed to reach the NCAA Tournament and lost to Georgetown in the first round of the NIT.

    August 1, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Must WVU defense carry offense in ’14?

    The other day the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette ran a story under the following headline:
    “In a year of change, must the Steelers’ offense carry the defense this year?”
    Reading that turned on a light.

    July 31, 2014

  • WVU takes first step today

    Perhaps the most used — and least factual — cliché in sports is as follows:
    “There’s no tomorrow.”
    Around these parts, however, tomorrow is what they are clinging to, while putting a new twist on the cliché, turning it to, “There’s no yesterday.”

    July 31, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Big 12 provides plenty of optimism

    This past week the Big 12 held its annual media gathering in Dallas and served up a heaping portion of optimism for the 2014 season that is now upon us, West Virginia University opening its preseason practices on Thursday.
    This is a time of year when no one has lost a game, not even Charlie Weis at Kansas, and it’s a time of year when opinions are more plentiful than tattoos in an NFL locker room.

    July 27, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: WVU needs White to follow in former receivers’ footsteps

    A year ago Clint Trickett took a lot of grief as the once potent West Virginia offense came unraveled, but there is more that than meets the eye.
    The criticism was not unfounded, of course, although behind each incomplete pass there was the pain Trickett was suffering through to throw it, his rotator cuff in need of surgery.

    July 26, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: O’Toole joins long list of eccentric WVU kickers, punters

    The star of the Big 12’s annual football media day wasn’t a star at all.
    He intrigued the media far more than Bob Stoops, the coach of preseason favorite Oklahoma, and more than Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty, the preseason player of the year.

    July 25, 2014

  • WVU, N.C. State to meet in football

    Following a trend of creating non-conference games against regional opponents, West Virginia University has reached agreement with North Carolina State to play a home-and-home football series in 2018 and 2019.
    The Mountaineers are scheduled to play N.C. State in Raleigh on Sept. 15, 2018, and then play host to the Wolfpack on Sept. 14, 2019.

    July 24, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: ‘Cheating pays’ remark should draw attention

    When Bob Bowlsby, the outspoken commissioner of the Big 12, presented his opening-day picture of the future of college sports in Dallas for the annual media day gathering, his bleak comments were not unexpected.

    July 24, 2014

House Ads
Featured Ads