The Times West Virginian

Sports

September 22, 2013

HERTZEL COLUMN: Freshman Childress to stay QB

MORGANTOWN — Get used to it.

Dana Holgorsen is your coach, West Virginia.

And he says Ford Childress is your quarterback.

Like it or lump it.

It’s the way it is.

We’re not saying it’s the way it should be, and we’re not saying it shouldn’t be that way.

That will play itself out.

Holgorsen isn’t changing his quarterback, and the reason is he doesn’t believe West Virginia could have won this game Saturday no matter who was at quarterback.

“There’s a lot of times it didn’t matter who was out there. We could have had Peyton Manning back there,” Holgorsen said. “If you are not able to get any yards in the run game, if you are not able to set your feet and throw it downfield, you don’t have a chance.

“I thought he was operating fine early but when he’s not planting his back foot and he’s getting hit there’s not much you can do.”

So there it is.

Get used to Ford Childress, even with the 11 for 22 passing today for just 62 yards, one completion to a wide receiver and that in the first quarter, two interceptions, one returned for a touchdown, another at the WVU 6 to set up a TD, and a fumble lost.

I’m guessing WVU may not have won with Manning, but the numbers would have been better.

Of course, Manning has something more than his high school ring.

“We’re talking about a redshirt freshman,” Holgorsen said. “We made the decision he’s going to be our guy, and he is going to be our guy. He will continue to get better and better.”

One might question the use of the word “continue,” for this certainly didn’t seem to be any improvement, but certainly Childress is hardly near his prime at present.

“He’s a redshirt freshman who has played one game. He’s not very experienced. He’s not very seasoned,” Holgorsen said. “It’s not an excuse. He needs to step up and man up and get better, and he needs people around him to do the same.

“We have a lot of guys with a lot more experience around him who are not doing their job at a very good rate and that needs to change … including me.”

Now that’s getting maybe closer to the real story.

One must understand, too, that Holgorsen isn’t experienced or proven as a head coach.

Being an assistant or a coordinator is different than being a head coach and this is a team – like Bill Stewart or not – that was in turmoil when Rich Rodriguez left and moved forward for a huge bowl win and – while not improving with three consecutive nine-win seasons – did not fall apart or deteriorate.

Holgorsen took over Stewart’s team with mostly his players and seems to be backsliding, winning just four of his last 13 games, the four victories being nothing to brag on.

Holgorsen has a reconstruction job here that isn’t far short of what they had in rebuilding the boardwalk after Hurricane Sandy roared through there. His offensive line, he observed, wasn’t ready for prime time.

One completion to a wide receiver can’t just fall on the line and the quarterback. It has to fall some on the play calling and preparation, no matter how little.

And here’s the real rub, a rub that was put forward following the game on the call-in shows when a caller addressed Holgorsen’s image.

“The guy’s not likeable,” he began. “He’s been blown out more than Rod and Stew combined. He wears black. He won’t wear school colors,” he said.

It is true that for someone who has changed around all the school uniforms and obviously believes in an image that is presented by the way you present yourself, he might also believe that fits for him, too, and a coach who won’t wear school colors will rub a lot of people the wrong … unless he wins.

Win and he can coach in a clown outfit and no one will complain … but a coach has to earn the right to go away from wearing school colors.

And to earn the right, you can’t be scoring 14 points against Syracuse, 14 against Kansas State, 14 against Texas Tech, seven against Oklahoma and zero against Maryland in your last 11 games.

Follow Bob Hertzel on Twitter @bhertzel.

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