MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Nevermind the hard-charging blitzers, the coverage disguises or the butterflies you’d anticipate a redshirt freshman experiencing in his first college action.

Instead, quarterback Ford Childress pinned the trickiest part of Saturday’s debut on West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen trying “to be cute with his signs.”

What the …?

“He tries to hide them and stuff, and he’s got little, small fingers,” said a grinning Childress. “So it gets kind of confusing.”

Ben Queen/MetroNews photo

Ford Childress threw for a West Virginia freshman-record 359 yards Saturday.

Holgorsen may not possess hands as large as his 6-foot-5 quarterback, but he showed a sizable pair of stones this week by promoting Childress from third-string based essentially on one practice.

According to Childress, the coaches planned to give him Tuesday’s first-team reps before Clint Trickett took the honors on Wednesday. Only Trickett never got the chance—because Childress performed well enough Tuesday to stick with the first-teamers the next day.

Photos from the Mountaineers’ victory.

Paul Millard, having overseen the offense through two underwhelming games, was not going to save his job this week, which meant Holgorsen was faced with a career first: Admitting he chose the wrong starting quarterback in the preseason.

Though Childress wasn’t perfect Saturday, he made Holgorsen’s do-over look like the right decision—hitting on 25-of-41 passes for three touchdowns one interception and a WVU freshman-best 359 yards. That stat line would have eclipsed the 400 mark if not for three drive-killing drops.

Not that Holgorsen particularly cared about the numbers.

“I look for some different things than what you (media) guys look for—completion percentage and yards and all that stuff I really don’t pay much attention to,” he said. “I thought his body language was good. I thought he handled the huddle pretty good. Coming to the sidelines he was communicative. That’s what we’re looking for.”

Of course, along with good posture and attentiveness, Holgorsen and his staff are looking for more explosive plays downfield. And there were numerous chances against a Georgia State defense that is feeble even by Sun Belt standards.

Some of those misfires were on Childress, who must learn to unleash the bigness of his right arm. Twice on post routes he failed to sufficiently lead deep burners Kevin White and Ronald Carswell, leading to this self-evaluation: “I tend to underthrow deep balls because I want to give (the receivers) a shot. But I just need to let it go and let them run under it.”

A 41-7 takedown of an FBS-light team isn’t enough to anoint Childress as a four-year starter, but it surely puts him in good stead for a second week. And by the close of next Saturday’s swing game at Maryland, we’ll more accurately assess whether this freshman can make the Mountaineers factors in the Big 12.

Holgorsen, returning to the subject of intangibles, sure sounds convinced.

“We all know he’s got some talent and he’s big, but I like his mentality,” Holgorsen said. “He’s got poise when I talk to him, and it doesn’t matter how I talk to him. If I’m being nice to him or being mean to him, he doesn’t let emotion get in the middle of that.”

For now, unequivocally, WVU’s fortunes rest in Childress’ hands, even if he can’t see his coach’s.

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  • John Davis

    Ford is a man among boys in comparison to trickett and millard . I like the kid he made the comment he planned to play four years in camp didn't pout when millard won the job and I feel he will do plenty enough to keep it!

  • D.P.

    William - I highly commend you on your POSITIVE post--how refreshing!!!!!

  • william price

    Childress has great arm strength. Throw's get there in a hurry.

  • 1olewvufan

    Just a side note:

    Ohio State's Urban Meyer has taken a play from Coach Holgorsen's playbook. This past weekend against USC, OSU ran the little flip toss that WVU made famous against Clemson in the Orange Bowl. This is the play where Tevon ran in front of Geno and Geno made the one foot toss to Tevon.

  • Dave

    Oh please.... Lets get all giddy because of a so-so performance against a good high school team. IF he survives Maryland we'll see how he fares with OK State. Then we can talk about how good he is.

  • concerned citizen

    wow! Who designs the color coordination for WVU's uniforms? Please fire the person. The uniforms are horrible looking. Last week was plain white helmets and now this week is an ugly yellow. Not gonna scare anybody with this look! Not to mention the throw back uniforms. Awful! This is NOT the NFL. College uniforms help recruit good players....take a page out of Oregon! They look apart and play the same!

  • Dr. Sarcasm

    Im glad we didnt make the opponents qb look like a hiesman candidate. 84 yds of passing!

  • jwg66

    Think we still have some work to do in our blocking. Not only in the OL, but by our Receivers as well. Simms, Smith & Smallwood seem capable of breaking off some long ones if they get the sustained blocks. Maybe the long ball threat will help loosen up the defenses too. It feels like we are rebuilding to me too but I like the potential of this team.

  • WVU65

    Next Saturday, for the first time this year we will not have the worst looking uniforms. Thank you Maryland.

  • Justin

    Childress will be a problem in the big 12 soon

    • Jay

      Folks, some years are just rebuilding seasons. So what if Childress takes his lumps in Big 12 play! Most QBs who are decent as juniors and seniors struggled as freshmen. Just stay calm and cheer on the Mountaineers. We'll have better years than 2013.

  • Doug

    I think the reason Holgorsen didn't start Childress is because he is jealous of his hair.

  • Mountaineer fanatic

    Keep up the good work and beat Maryland.

  • msaunders

    Give em hell Ford male us proud at Marryland

  • WVU_93

    I still believe this was the plan all along unless somebody definitively claimed the job in week 1 or 2. Oklahoma was not the place for his debut on the road, Maryland is better and their will be a lot of wv fans there.

  • Nick

    It is funny that most of the fans knew Childress was the QB we should start and Holgerson didn't...I just wish Childress would shave his head and look like a real man!

    • tony

      its funny you said that, cause after watching some of the post game i/v with me, my wife (45 yrs old) made a comment that "the girls were gonna like him"..

      he's the 1st one I ever remember my wife saying that about ever.....

    • Larry

      I think he should grow it out and keep it in a ponytail, always trust men with ponytails.

      • leroy j gibbs

        Or mullets

        • Larry

          Yes, those too, the"Arkansas Waterfall".

    • Doug

      Shave his head? Every picture I have seen of Jesus has long hair Nick. What are you saying?

      • Nick

        Doug do we need to get into religion? I won't on this message board. I don't they had scissors back then anyway. Also, if they are in cold weather it is okay to have long hair because it keeps you warm.

    • packyeers

      Yea like Tom Brady!