The Times West Virginian

September 17, 2013

HERTZEL COLUMN- Childress a work in progress

By Bob Hertzel
For the Times West Virginian

MORGANTOWN — Dana Holgorsen has his quarterback in Ford Childress.

He was fine against Georgia State.

Will he be good enough for the big time?

Holgorsen will know more about that after he watches him prepare and play against Maryland in a dress rehearsal for a meeting with the best the Big 12 has to give in Oklahoma State.

“He has to pick up his sense of urgency and play faster, but that’s something we will obviously work on and he will get better with reps,” Holgorsen said on the Big 12 coaches conference call Monday.

Urgency and play faster ... a formula for success in Holgorsen’s offense.

What he did against Georgia State in setting WVU passing records by completing 25 of 41 for 359 yards and three touchdowns showed Holgorsen much of what he was looking for in Childress’ collegiate debut following a redshirt year plus two games.

“I was interested in what his poise was, what his demeanor was on the sideline, what his communication was in game and with the guys on the line of scrimmage getting into the right play,” the coach explained.

This was about attitude, about acting as if he belonged, as if he knew the right way to play the game and was the best person to pull it off.

“He didn’t get rattled. We didn’t do a great job on some of our protection stuff and he ended up getting hit and I was actually encouraged by the way he handled getting hit,” Holgorsen revealed. “He stood in there; it didn’t rattle him. His demeanor was good, got right back up and went to work.”

That, however, was just scratching the surface, the beginning.

“Consistency and improvement, he’s got a long way to go. He hasn’t played a lot of football. He played only two years in high school and this was his first college game,” Holgorsen explained. “He’s relatively raw at the quarterback position and has a lot of things to work on. The stage is obviously going to be bigger this week and in the Big 12.”

And on that stage what does Holgorsen expect?

“I expect his demeanor to be consistent. I expect his productivity to improve,” he said. “The communication was fine but the bigger the stage, the harder that is going to be.”

Demeanor and communication are one thing. Holgorsen is also looking for technical improvement.

“He’s just got to improve. His footwork has to improve. His accuracy has to improve. He threw three or four away that I thought were pretty easy to complete. He didn’t get that done,” Holgorsen said.

“His timing with the receivers, his relationship with those guys is going to take time.

“They need to play a bunch. They need to practice a bunch. They need to take advantage of every opportunity that exists throughout the week, and then in each and every game there has to be improvement in that as well.”

That is something that can’t be taught. It has no shortcuts, no tricks.

You want your communication with wide receivers Daikiel Shorts or Ivan McCartney to become so second nature that you know how they are going to react to a certain coverage simply by seeing them move.

You see it often enough in practice, see it enough before practice, see it in the spring and in the summer.

Then when a Maryland defender takes away what is supposed to be an inside cut, you know how the receiver will react almost before he does.

That makes for great plays and great players, but it doesn’t always happen in a quarterback’s second or third game, more likely in the second or third year.

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