The Times West Virginian

Bob Herzel

September 21, 2013

WVU center understands Childress’ situation

MORGANTOWN — One is a fifth-year senior, the other a redshirt freshman.

So different.

So much the same.

True, senior Pat Eger has much to call upon in terms of experience, a starter of 20 games, while Ford Childress, a redshirt freshman, has started in just one game.

Indeed, they are different, but if you look at it differently, Eger has made only one start at center, last week, the same number of starts as his quarterback, Childress, has made.

Eger understands his situation.

“It was a good start, obviously,” he said of last week’s first start at center.

It might have been better at guard or tackle. He was being asked to take one for the team, to step out of his comfort level and do something new, something where he was vulnerable.

“I’m a team player. Wherever I need to go, I’ll go. If I need to play right tackle, if I need to play center to help us win the game, I’m fine with that,” Eger said, then added with a laugh, ”If they want to line me up at fullback, I’ll go hit someone.”

Interestingly, Eger’s efforts at a new position are absorbed without much notice because at center he is buried in the interior of the offensive line.

“Only Mom knows what you are doing,” Eger said.

“I’ve started a lot of games here and played a lot of positions. My Mom, she’s always 100 percent supporting me. She’s always proud to see me out there on the field.”

As it turns out, Childress’ mom and his dad, a former NFL star player, also notice Eger and appreciate his role in helping their son win his first game as a collegiate quarterback.

Eger knows that Childress’ debut was a good one with 25 completions in 41 attempts for 359 yards and three touchdowns and what that took.

“I can remember my first start,” Eger said. “I couldn’t sleep the night before. I was throwing up in the morning.”

It was easier on Childress.

“Ford came in and was very mature, took charge in the huddle. He acted like a four-year starter. He took command of the offense. We all made mistakes. We have to move forward from here,” Eger said.

The thing was, Eger didn’t have unrealistic expectations for the freshman’s first start.

He did not expect Geno Smith.

“I’m behind Ford 100 percent. I think he has the ability to carry this team this year,” Eger said.

But that was only one game, and Maryland is a big step up in class for both Eger and Childress.

“You always have to get better. If I go from this week to next week and don’t improve at all and make the same mistakes, I’m going downhill. In college football you have to get better every week, and by the end of the season you find your game is the best in the Big 12.”

Maryland will be bringing the heat on defense, trying to fool and confuse both Eger and Childress.

“They run blitzes and twists within their blitzes that really create confusion within the offensive line,” WVU offensive line coach Ron Crook said. “It’s going to be a big challenge for us.”

Follow Bob Hertzel on Twitter @bhertzel.

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