Despite the offense beginning the game with little apparent emotion and looking half a step slow, the West Virginia University Mountaineers and Ford Childress pasted the Georgia State University Panthers by a score of 41-7 in front of a surprisingly large crowd of 57,000 fans in Milan Puskar Stadium on Saturday.
The Mountaineers 34 point win may have failed to cover the huge point spread by 6 points, but more importantly WVU gained over 600 yards in offense and had 30 first downs in addition to 41 points.
With the exception of only a couple of errant throws to open receivers, Ford Childress showed why he is now the starting QB for the Mountaineers.
Childress took charge of the WVU offense and completed 25 of 41 passes for 359 yds. and 3 touchdowns with 1 interception. His 61% completion rate and the interception gave him a QB rating of 74.2. His 359 yds. passing set a new record for fresman quarterbacks at WVU. The previous record was 257 yds. set in 2000 by Scott McBrien
Saturday's game was a very good showing for Childress' first college football experience. He was able to maintain the offense at a fast pace most of the game. Childress was chastized once by the coaches for allowing the offense to slow down at one point during the 4th quarter.
During his post game press conference the coach was asked if he was happy with his young quarterback's performance. Coach Dana Holgorsen replied, "He got 100% of the reps, didn't he?" The coach said he was pleased with Childress' performance and noted, "He will only get better."
WVU coach Dana Holgosen praised Childress for his game presense and the way he handled the team . Holgorsen said he was pleased with Childress'overall performance, especially for his first game.
He also singled out Dakiel Shorts, KJ Meyers and Ivan McCartney for responding well to being replaced as starters by stepping up their game. Coach Holgorsen smiled as he recalled Shorts taking a couple of hard hits as he came across the middle and coming right back.
The Panthers tried to rattle WVU's first time starter by loading the box and blitzing him most of the day. Several times a defensive player came in untouched and the Panthers managed to sack Childress twice. The young QB avoided the rush most of the game although he took a couple of hard hits to complete a couple of his passes.
WVU also had 245 yds. rushing with Charles Sims gaining 116 yds on 18 carries and a touchdown. Dreamius Smith added 60 yds and a touchdown on 12 carries and Wendell Smallwood had 62 yds on 8 carries. Overall the Mountaineers averaged 5.4 yds per carry.
This came despite the Panthers crowding the line of scrimmage and forcing Childress to beat them with the pass. His interception was the only WVU turnover. The Mountaineers were penalized only 4 times and coach Holgorsen said he couldn't understand 2 of them. The Mountaineers' Nick O'Toole only punted 3 times the entire game.
WVU allowed GSU to score a 65 yd. touchdown run by freshman running back Travis Evans which boosted the Panthers' total yardage to 220 total yds. That run was nearly half of Evans' 118 yds.
In addition to being held to 10 first downs, GSU only converted 3 of 13 third downs and completed 8 of 18 passes. The WVU defense was led by redshirt sophomore linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski with nine tackles, one sack, one tackle for a loss and a forced fumble.
Any players that were marginal healthwise were held out and many 2nd and 3rd stringers recieved substantial playing time. The Mountaineers accomplished what they needed to and found a quarterback. That makes for a pretty successful afternoon.
WVU travels to 3-0 Maryland next Saturday with a 3:30 pm kickoff time.