At 6'5”, 234lbs, the new starting quarterback for West Virginia University Ford Childress is more than a chip off the old block, chip off the old mountain is more like it.
Ray Childress an All-Pro defensive end for the Houston Oilers who made his living sacking quarterbacks is the senior Childress. Father, like son, is more mountain than man at 6'6” and a listed playing weight of 272lbs. The senior Childress still ranks second for career sacks for the NFL franchise in Houston.
The biggest knock on the younger Childress is his lack of foot speed, there are questions whether he can avoid a pass rush. With his size, I believe the better question is once the rush actually gets to Childress is one defender enough to bring him down? How effective can a corner blitz be when the corner is 40 to 50 lbs lighter than the quarterback?
The Georgia State Panthers travel to Morgantown to play the Mountaineers on Saturday. There are five players on the Panther roster that can match Childress' height, linebacker John Kelly is the only defender. The ability to see over the defensive front shouldn't be a problem for Childress on Saturday.
WVU enters the contest against Georgia State as a 40-point favorite. A lot of points for a team that hasn't broken 40 combined points in their first two games. Add a new, first time starting quarterback to the mix and an individual has to wonder if the guys setting the lines in Vegas are sober.
Childress has been called a pure passer and was listed as an NFL style quarterback by the recruiting services prior to signing his letter of intent to the Mountaineers. During fall practice, in preparation for the season WVU head football coach Dana Holgorsen echoed those evaluations during numerous interviews.
Still, Holgorsen chose to start Paul Millard in the season opener and again in the second game against Oklahoma. There are members of Mountaineer Nation that have even begun to question whether current quarterback coach Shannon Dawson is as adept in his position as his predecessor Jake Spavital.
That question is as crazy as a 40-point spread. Holgorsen and Dawson believed that Millard's experience in the WVU offense provided the best opportunity for a victory against Oklahoma. Both coaches had to believe asking a quarterback to face the Oklahoma defense, in Norman, in his second start was asking too much of a red-shirt freshman. Instead they asked their junior.
The quarterback that the Mountaineers are attempting to replace, Geno Smith, gave a textbook example in his NFL debut to why you bring a young quarterback along slowly. Unfortunately, the Jets aren't able to give Geno that luxury, it is baptism by fire for the greatest passer in Mountaineer history.
Holgorsen and Dawson were afforded that luxury with Millard, and had Millard performed better in the first two games he would be starting his third. Georgia State and Maryland do not represent the same level of competition that William & Mary and Oklahoma presented.
Maryland is certainly capable of beating the Mountaineers, they are not the Sooners. William & Mary beat Georgia State last year 35-3, the Tribe is a much better football team than the Panthers. Holgorsen and Dawson knew if they needed, the schedule presented an opportunity in week three and four.
So it is that Childress is given the opportunity to show Mountaineer Nation what he can do with the keys to Holgorsen's Corvette of an offense. Fair or not, the play-makers that Childress inherits are better than the play-makers Millard began the season with. The first two games weren't just about evaluating the quarterback position on offense.
The depth chart at receiver has changed, and the depth chart along the offensive line has changed too. With two games under their belts, none of Childress' teammates are brand new and should provide improved protection and better targets.
The running backs are as advertised and provide the security blanket any new quarterback needs to succeed. Childress simply has to manage the offense, it isn't necessary for him to be the play-maker. He just has to get the ball in the play-makers hands, or distribute and let his teammates do the rest.
If that weren't enough, the Mountaineers' new defense will make certain Childress doesn't need to light up the scoreboard out of the gate. Those questions from the off-season have been answered too.
The team that Childress is put in charge of is superior, in every aspect, than the team that began the season with Millard. Two games worth of video do wonders for a coach's ability to teach.
When you look out on the field Saturday, that guy standing tall in the pocket is actually tall. Thanks to the two opening games, and his fellow quarterback, the team around him has grown to support his stature.
It's up to Childress to show he can support theirs.