The Times West Virginian

Bob Herzel

August 3, 2013

HERTZEL COLUMN: Childress: Youth can make impact

MORGANTOWN — The question came at him like a blindside blitzer, as many of the best questions do, this one actually coming from Ford Childress’ blindside by Mike Casazza of the Daily Mail.

“Ford, this really unfair,” he said as preface — and warning — as to what was coming, “but a redshirt freshman from Texas won the Heisman last year, right? Not to put any pressure on you, but a lot of people would say a redshirt freshman quarterback is not supposed to come in and turn a team around like that, right?”

Childress, who just so happens to be a redshirt freshman quarterback from Texas, laughed nervously as the point of the question was reached.

“Does that change expectations? Not saying everyone (who is a redshirt quarterback from Texas) has to do that, but there isn’t that invisible wall that you can’t do it because it just happened.”

OK, now Childress, West Virginia University’s quarterback from Texas who most people believe won’t be able to beat out Florida State transfer Clint Trickett and will battle last year’s backup Paul Millard for the backup role, go ahead and answer that.

He tried.

“Exactly,” he began, referring to Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel’s having torn down the belief that a freshman could not win the award. “You can never predict the future, but basically that’s everyone’s goal to win the Heisman and be the best player in the country that year. Everyone is looking for that.”

Obviously, considering only one of all the football players in America wins that award in any given year, it is a rather unrealistic goal, especially when you are asking a kid a year out of high school and with no experience to come in, start, win 10 or so games … it’s just something that isn’t supposed to be done.

Or is it? Are kids growing up faster now? And could Ford Childress possibly, in as simple an offense as Holgorsen runs, actually pull it off … if he wins the starting job?

“With a simple offense, you can make an impact, no matter how old you are,” Childress said, but he was speaking not necessarily about himself and the Heisman but instead about so many young guys on the team who need to make an impact for the team to grow from last year’s seven-win season.

“Anybody on our team, because we have a ton of guys who just came in and haven’t been in our offense, haven’t seen our offense ever, that are going to have to step up and make a big impact.”

The idea behind the offense isn’t to fool the defense, simply to beat them with schemes that work simply, keeping players from having to become Rhodes Scholars to pass … or run.

In fact, coach Dana Holgorsen takes pride in the fact that there isn’t even a playbook.

Childress, in fact, recalls the first time he and last year’s quarterback coach Jake Spavital, who now happens to be coaching that redshirt freshman Heisman winner in his sophomore year, sat and watched film.

“He was just showing me the plays,” Childress recalled. “I was expecting him to hand me a playbook, but that doesn’t happen around here apparently.”

Childress understands his situation. With the offense that simple, a veteran like Trickett will have no trouble picking it up, so it’s come down to something more than that when Holgorsen has to choose.

What Childress’ thoughts on what will turn the tide?

“I think someone who can lead this offense and have someone else look at you and know that you can step up and do it,” he said, perhaps describing his own image of himself.

After all, players who are 19 or 20 and talented aren’t exactly known for their patience.

“I want to start now,” Childress proclaimed. “It was always in my mind when I came here that I’ve got a great opportunity to start for four years. That what I’m planning on doing.”

Childress believes he could have played last year as a true freshman but understands there was no need with Geno Smith around.

“I think I would have been pretty ready, but I don’t think we could have gotten as dynamic a stuff as Geno did. His checks and all that, I wasn’t up to there …but I think I could have operated well,” he said.

He says he getting better with the things he has to and believes that actually there is a blessing in being as raw as he is.

“I’m just a younger guy who has a lot more to learn and can get better,” he said. “I have more room to grow. There’s not really a ceiling yet. I can learn from my mistakes more. They’ve already learned from them.”

Interestingly, Holgorsen has different things to pick from.

“There’s subtle differences between our games. Clint is probably the most athletic of all of us and Paul has been in the offense longer, so he kind of knows what going on,” Childress said. “We all can make every throw. It’s more mental differences between us.”

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

Text Only
Bob Herzel
  • 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

  • Holgorsen’s program hits turning point

    You can almost sense, as you watch West Virginia University football coach Dana Holgorsen sit before the gathered Big 12 media contingent answering questions in the Omni Hotel in Arlington, Texas, that he senses his program has reached a turning point.

    July 23, 2014

  • Big 12 Media Days Foo_time(1).jpg Trickett’s play key factor for Mountaineers’ success

     In the end, it comes down to the quarterback.
    Always has with Dana Holgorsen, always will.
    Quarterback is the offense with the West Virginia University coach. When he does well, the team wins – almost always.
    When he does poorly, the team doesn’t stand much of a chance.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Saban, family happy at Alabama

    Alabama football coach Nick Saban, whose team opens the season against West Virginia in Atlanta on Aug. 30, denied receiving or turning down this offseason an offer of $100 million to coach Texas, indicating he planned to finish his career as coach of the Crimson Tide.

    July 18, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: ‘Quarterback child prodigy’ comes to WVU amidst very high expectations

    Has West Virginia football coach Dana Holgorsen finally put the arrow he needs in his quiver with the commitment received Wednesday from high school quarterback David Sills, who is a rather extraordinary story and may also just be a rather extraordinary quarterback?

    July 18, 2014

  • WVU kicker Molinari ‘All-American boy’

    West Virginia kicker Mike Molinari may not be an All-American but he is an All-American boy.
    He was honored for that on Wednesday when the Allstate Insurance Company and the American Football Coaches Association announced the West Virginia redshirt senior kicker/punter Michael Molinari is a nominee for the Allstate AFCA Good Works Team.

    July 16, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Smallwood puts future in jeopardy

    The last thing West Virginia’s struggling football program needed as twilight was setting on Bastille Day in Morgantown was to have one of its own whisked off to the North Central Regional Jail on a fugitive warrant from another state, especially a player who had figured to play a key role in the resurrection of a program gone bad.

    July 16, 2014

  • WVU player arrested in Delaware case

    West Virginia University running back Wendell Smallwood has been arrested by university police and is being held at North Central Regional Jail awaiting extradition on a felony warrant out of Delaware.

    July 15, 2014

  • WVU hoping to add two non-conference contests

    West Virginia is nearing the completion of deals to play football games against long-time rival Virginia Tech, now in the Atlantic Coast Conference, and Tennessee of the Southeastern Conference, according to a source close to the negotiations.
    An announcement is expected shortly.

    July 15, 2014

House Ads
Featured Ads