MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Even 604 yards of offense behind a first-time starting quarterback didn’t do much to lift Shannon Dawson’s spirits Saturday. Not when five West Virginia drives inside Georgia State territory resulted in zero points.
Though the Mountaineers won comfortably, 41-7, execution wasn’t always crisp and West Virginia’s receivers continued to drop routine catches. Against one of the worst teams in the FBS, Dawson expected more than five touchdowns on 12 trips across midfield.
“We have a way about us that kills drives,” said WVU’s offensive coordinator. “I don’t know if it’s a mental thing—I don’t know what it is. We’re not asking anybody to do anything superhuman. Just do your job, and we’ll keep drives alive.”
Kevin White, after looking so dangerous in a seven-catch performance at Oklahoma, caught only two passes Saturday (for 17 yards) and dropped the same number. One botched a wide-open middle screen, and the second negated what should have been a 32-yard touchdown bomb from Ford Childress.
Mario Alford also let a third-down pass slip through his hands at the sticks.
“It’s frustrating, but they didn’t mean to drop it,” said Childress, who threw for 359 yards nonetheless, including a 45-yard touchdown to Ivan McCartney.
Other deep throws against man-to-man coverage didn’t turn out as well, due to Childress underthrowing receivers and the receivers failing to outposition GSU defensive backs.
“We made a few (plays), but we’ve got to make the ones down the field,” Dawson said. “Those are the ones that bother me the most. When you get an opportunity downfield, you’ve got to make a play.”
Freshman Daikiel Shorts had a team-high 88 yards and two touchdowns on five catches. He deserved a purple heart for his 26-yard reception across the middle, which ended in collision with Panthers safety Rashad Stewart.
“That was a great hit from whoever it was—I’m not sure which safety hit me,” Shorts said. “Luckily I didn’t get a concussion. I felt it in my head. I saw (Stewart) coming over but I didn’t know he was going to get there so fast.”
Though it was undoubtedly his biggest live-game hit, Shorts felt prepared: “I had a couple of those at practice. Darwin Cook hit pretty hard in camp, so I’m used to it I guess.”
After catching a 21-yard touchdown in traffic during the first quarter, Shorts made a sprawling grab on a 23-yarder in the corner of the end zone. He narrowly wedged his hands under the pass, but couldn’t celebrate the catch because he rolled over the ball and lost his wind.
KJ Myers added six catches for 64 yards, McCartney made two for 66 and Ronald Carswell added three for 67. Yet for all the impressive stats, WVU settled for field goals at the Georgia State 6 and 25-yard lines, missed one from the Panthers’ 36 and suffered a Childress sack on fourth-and-3 at the 25.
Twice the Mountaineers punted inside GSU territory and Childress suffered his only interception on a hurried throw from the GSU 26.
That limited WVU to 41 points, one fewer than UT-Chattanooga scored against Georgia State last week.
Said Dawson: “I wouldn’t be frustrated if we didn’t have the players physically.”