By Mickey Furfari
For The Register-Herald
The most meaningful thing to come out of West Virginia’s 41-7 victory against overwhelmed Georgia State (0-3) last Saturday at home was Ford Childress’ fine performance at quarterback.
The 6-foot-5, 235-pound redshirt freshman from Houston, Texas, in his debut as a collegiate player, completed 25 of his passes for 359 yards and three touchdowns — two in the fourth quarter. He was intercepted just one time.
Several of Childress’ 16 incompletions were passes dropped by receivers, including one which cost WVU a touchdown.
So misplays like those most certainly could make a damaging difference in any of the nine remaining games on the Mountaineers’ schedule.
Erratic pass-catching seems like a potential problem which West Virginia (2-1, 0-1 Big 12) did not have last year, thanks mainly to All-Americans Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey.
Childress, who played Saturday’s entire game, surely deserves to start against what looms as a truly tough test — something Georgia State most certainly wasn’t.
If Childress can lead his team to a victory against Maryland (3-0), which is a long-time respected opponent, then he might well continue to be the starting QB as long as he remains healthy. The Terrapins defeated Connecticut 32-21 to stay unbeaten.
There are no more “gimme” games left this season for the Mountaineers.
Meanwhile, it does seem somewhat of a surprise that coach Dana Holgorsen and has staff still appear to be experimenting going into Game 4. They were making as many as three and four substitutions at positions in between plays (but not at quarterback).
It was pleasing that, despite leading by only 17-0 after a struggling first half, WVU finished with 604 yards in total offense last Saturday and had 83 plays. The defense held Georgia State to only a net of 220 yards and 51 offensive plays.
Childress’ only interception did kill a drive at the Panthers’ 25-yard line that obviously hurt. And, again, several of his 16 incompletions were drops.
It was good to see the WVU running game regain high productivity at 245 yards on 42 rushes. Four backs carried on those 42 rushes, with Houston transfer Charles Sims leading the way (18 carries for a net of 116 yards and one touchdown).
The defense, which came up with four turnovers in the 16-7 loss at Oklahoma a week earlier, managed just a fumble recovery against Georgia State. And it was disheartening to see defenders allow Travis Evans break loose 65 yards for the Panthers’ only TD early in the third quarter.
That trimmed the score to 17-7.
The WVU-Maryland contest will be played on a neutral field (M&T Bank Stadium) in Baltimore at 3:30 pm Saturday.
Here’s some interesting background information about Ford Childress:
n Coached by Steve Hill at Houston’s Kinkaid High, he led his team to a 20-1 record, capturing back-to-back Southwest Preparatory Conference titles in 2010 and 2011.
n He completed 184 of 292 passes for 3,171 yards and 41 touchdowns and only seven interceptions as a senior. He had a 63 percent completion rate that season.