By Bob Hertzel
Times West Virginian
West Virginia University football coach Dana Holgorsen is hoping Ford – Childress, that is – has a better idea of how to run his sputtering offense against winless Georgia State.
Kickoff is at noon in Milan Puskar Stadium.
Ford Childress is a redshirt freshman, the son of former five-time NFL Pro Bowler for the Houston Oilers Ray Childress.
Childress did not appear in either of the first two games as junior Paul Millard ran the offense for all but two series, those turned over to Florida State transfer Clint Trickett, who failed on both of his passes.
“We feel like he’s ready,” Holgorsen said in making the announcement of the move to Childress on the coach’s radio show. “His fire is lit. He’s sat there on the sidelines. When given the opportunity, he’s grabbed it and said let’s go.”
Childress took 80 percent of the reps during the week after Millard and Trickett had shared the reps for the first two games and plans are for him to play as No. 1 without sharing the job.
The change was necessitated because, with the other two QBs, WVU ranked 109th out of 125 teams in scoring, which put it behind even (104) Georgia State. Holgorsen’s inventive passing attack ranked just 64th in the nation, which explains why not only Childress gets to start but does so along with three new wide receivers out of junior college – Kevin White, Ronald Carswell and Mario Alford.
While Holgorsen understands he doesn’t have the same dynamics as last year when his passing game sent three players – Geno Smith, Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey — off to the NFL in the first three rounds, he believes he potentially has an offense that can be as effective.
This is because the running game figures to be far more potent and because he has more depth at wide receiver, but the coach know it is going to hinge around the quarterback play, and he’s hoping Childress can get his feet on the ground against Georgia State before having to play Maryland in Baltimore and then dive head first into conference play against Oklahoma State, the favorite to win the Big 12.
“There’s potential on offense, and that word disturbs me,” Holgorsen said early in the week. “I don’t like it very much, but there is potential on offense. A lot of people talk about how talented we are; even guys on our team talk about how talented we are.”
Talk, though, is just that.
“We need to prove that, we need to make some plays,” Holgorsen stated. “You need to make plays when you are put into those situations, and if you don’t, we will try and put some other guys in those situations.”
While Holgorsen will be looking for plays in the passing game, he is mainly trying to find a workable balance between running and passing so he can not only take advantage of his wide receivers but of the running back depth which includes the versatile Charles Sims, the powerful Dreamius Smith, freshman Wendell Smallwood and holdover Dustin Garrison.
“It all depends on what the defense does,” Holgorsen said of achieving balance. “We ran it so much more against William & Mary, because we had the numbers to do so. Oklahoma had one more guy in the box every time we snapped the ball. So how much sense would it make to run it against unblocked people?
“Dreamius (Smith)’s one run was great, but he also ran over two people; you aren’t going to continuously run over people. Our pass game was better schemed, and we had more open guys than we did last year. We just didn’t do a good job of getting them the ball on those plays. I thought the game was called well.”
It is certain that even though WVU’s pass defense is greatly improved over a year ago, Georgia State will try to throw the ball because its most dynamic weapon is wide receiver Albert Wilson, who had 15 catches for 299 yards and three touchdowns in the first two games.
He has been joined by freshman wide receiver Robert Davis, and the two rank 1-2 in the Sun Belt Conference, Davis having caught 11 passes for 166 yards in his first two collegiate games.
Like WVU, the Panthers come into the game off a shakeup by coach Trent Miles, who was furious after being beaten 42-14 by Tennessee-Chattanooga.
Two starting offensive linemen — center Michael Davis and guard Harrison Clottey — quit the team. In addition, running backs coach Tony Tiller was reassigned to another position within the athletic department, and graduate assistant Brock Lough will take over his position.
Email Bob Hertzel at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @bhertzel.