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In his college debut, Ford Childress completed 25-of-41 passes for 359 yards, three touchdowns and one interception against Georgia State. Next up is Maryland.
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Though not always dominant, West Virginia pulled away late for a 41-7 victory over Georgia State. Here are the unit-by-unit ups and downs with a spotlight on the dawn of the Ford Childress Era:
WVU ran 83 plays against Georgia State and Childress triggered every one, absorbing some expedited on-the-job training in preparation for next week’s start at Maryland. In compiling a school freshman-record 359 passing yards, he tossed three touchdowns and completed 25-of-41 passes.
Digging deeper into the stats: Five of his 16 incompletions were flat-out misses on open receivers, but Childress also suffered four drops (including one that should have been a 32-yard touchdown to Kevin White). One of his best reads of the day—spotting a cornerback blitz and throwing quickly into the area vacated by the blitzer—resulted in a drop by Mario Alford that ended WVU’s first drive.
Offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson’s review—”He stood good in the pocket.”—was particularly spot-on with GSU linebacker Jarrell Robinson wrapped around Childress’ left leg on a 7-yard pass to Cody Clay. Robinson got to the quarterback again, in more violent fashion, on a 26-yard hookup to Daikiel Shorts, who also was belted pretty violently on the other end.
On the lone interception, Childress tried to beat a jailbreak blitz and didn’t see defensive back Brent McClendon step in front of Alford, who contributed to the turnover by breaking off his crossing route and turning vertical.
After underthrowing several deep balls Saturday, Childress confessed he was too worried about overthrowing receivers and vowed to “let it go” in the future. That arm strength showed repeatedly on sideline passes, including a 23-yard scoring strike to Shorts in the corner of the end zone.
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WVU running back Charles Sims runs for a touchdown against Georgia State.
With 18 rushes for 116 yards, Charles Sims enjoyed his second 100-yard effort in three games as a Mountaineer. He also scored his second touchdown, on a 32-yard stretch play. (Give Clay a huge assist on the TD, seeing as how he planted 190-pound safety Rashad Stewart on the edge.)
Sims split wide on a couple occasions and caught one pass for 10 yards. His chop block flag—cutting the legs of a blitzer already engaged with Mark Glowinski—looked more legitimate than the one Dreamius Smith incurred last week at Oklahoma.
Speaking of Smith, he carried 12 times for 60 yards and continues to show a surprising downfield burst. He ran through three tacklers on a 10-yard touchdown in the game’s closing seconds. However, the blocking bugaboo that limited his carries at OU appeared to resurface on a fourth-down sack in GSU territory, when Smith helped on an outside blitzer and allowed Robinson to run free up the middle.
Thanks to a late 38-yard run, freshman Wendell Smallwood was WVU’s No. 2 rusher with eight rushes for 62 yards.
Two catches of 40-plus yards, and seven of more than 20, looked like a productive day; but all four routine drops factored into drives that amounted to zero points.
Kevin White, who promised “I’m going to make a lot of plays this Saturday,” gained 17 yards on two catches and exited in the third quarter after his second drop.
“We’ve got to have some guys step up ands make plays on the football,” groused Dawson, sounding more exasperated than any coordinator should after his offense put up 604 yards. But he sees a unit that’s too inconsistent to reach its playmaking potential.
KJ Myers (six catches for 64 yards) became the third receiver to lead WVU in receptions in three games, and did so with a series of physical grabs to extend possessions. Shorts was more spectacular—five catches for 88 yards and his first two touchdowns—rebounding from his no-show in Norman.
Ivan McCartney had a redemptive week as well, catching a 45-yard score on the same double-move route that sprang him free for a goal-line drop at OU. Ronnie Carswell’s 43-yard catch on a post route might have been a TD had Childress led him properly, and for the first time this season, the junior showed niftiness on two sideline catches. Alas, he also had a late-game third-down drop.
Alford recovered from his opening-series drop to make four grabs for 33 yards, and scooted 24 yards on an end around.
Most weeks, the line would warrant an “up” grade for 245 rushing yards and a 5.8-per-carry average. But the level of competition comes into account, as does the fact GSU registered eight TFLs.
Most of the negative running plays came when GSU had a numbers advantage in the box, but right tackle Curtis Feigt and right guard Mark Glowinski each were beaten in one-on-one situations. (Feigt looked otherwise capable, and Glowinski got pieces of two defenders on Sims’ 25-yard first-half run.)
The left side was more reliable, with Quinton Spain and Marquis Lucas having solid days. Replacement Nick Kindler, who played both tackles, allowed a sack when GSU linebacker Robert Ferguson looped outside on a stunt.
Pat Eger’s first start at center was functional, tempered only by an interior holding call on a defender who was getting no push. (The worst part about the flag? It nixed a scramble that was Childress’ only shot at a Michael Vick moment.) Tyler Orlosky subbed in for the final four plays after Eger injured his left ankle on Smallwood’s big run.
One more note on the Smallwood run: Lineman Russell Haughton-James—filling out every bit of the No. 89 jersey during his temporary move to tight end—delivered a crucial seal block. He also ran a route or two, making it a shame Childress never targeted the 297-pound downfield threat.
Georgia State’s 4.1-per-carry average received a boost from Travis Evans’ 65-yard run—as much a function of second-level mistakes as the defensive front.
In his first start of the season, sophomore defensive end Kyle Rose made six tackles, including a sack. He was seeing increased action because Eric Kinsey spent more time at outside linebacker.
Another sack came from Will Clarke on a four-man rush, and the senior was a penetrating force in the backfield. Though Dontrill Hyman was credited with only a single tackle, he was disruptive—and he delivered the hit of the day upon deflating quarterback Ronnie Bell along the sideline on a 31-yard completion that should have been broken up. (See secondary.)
Nose guard Shaq Rowell made three tackles, including 1.5 TFLs, and played more snaps than expected because injured backup Christian Brown sat out the second half.
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Nick Kwiatkoski made a team-high nine tackles with a sack and a forced fumble.
Nick Kwiatkoski has been an early season surprise at Will linebacker—much like Isaiah Bruce was in 2012—and made a team-high nine tackles. His sack was the result of defensive coordinator Keith Patterson dialing up more second-half blitzes.
Kwiatkoski also forced WVU’s only turnover, planting running back Jonathan Jean-Bart while forcing a fourth-quarter fumble. “Me and him just met at the hole, and I think I got my helmet on the ball,” said the linebacker. Kwiatkoski sensed he made a good lick when Jean-Bart “just kind of laid there.”
On the negative side, Kwiatkoski whiffed on Evans’ long run, though backside linebacker Jared Barber overpursued and was absent rom the cutback gap. Barber was otherwise solid on his assignments, making five stops, including two on passes caught at the line of scrimmage.
With Bruce injured at the Spur linebacker and freshman Marvin Gross not ready for extended playing time, Patterson admitted to “getting creative” and deploying two Bucks at times. Brandon Golson (with two quarterback pressures that went uncredited in the postgame stats) has looked explosive at the position, but Kinsey was surprisingly effective in his new spot. He made three tackles and one hurry, though he also lined up at nose and end in various alignments.
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Freshman Daryl Worley made the start at nickel back.
WVU opened in a 3-3-5 nickel package, giving freshman corner Daryl Worley his first start. After being misaligned on GSU’s first play—result in an Evans 15-yard run—Worley recovered to make four tackles, one behind the line, and broke up a pass. Worley also came on several designed blitzes.
Partly because the front seven generated a frequent pass rush, Georgia State didn’t test the Mountaineers downfield—completing just 8-of-18 passes for 84 yards. The aforementioned 31-yard completion by Bell was an ill-conceived heave toward the middle of the field that Robert Davis had a chance to catch only because WVU’s Ricky Rumph and Travis Bell reacted poorly.
Cornerback Icky Banks contributed to Evans’ touchdown run, giving the back a path down the sideline by erroneously ducking inside.
Darwin Cook (three tackles) had a quiet game, except for a personal-foul penalty on an over-the-middle hit that came a tick too tardy. Karl Joseph recovered Jean-Bart’s fumble and made only two tackles, a function of the guys up front playing better.
Georgia State’s Albert Wilson was shutout after making 15 catches in the previous two games. He also entered a the FBS’ active leader at 19.4 yards per catch, but dropped an underneath crossing route, the only throw that reached his hands all afternoon.
Josh Lambert made kicks from 42 and 23 and came up a few feet shy on a 53-yard try. On what was unofficiallly “Stache the Stadium” day, punter Nick O’Toole wasn’t able to launch a boomer. He had a long of 36 and two other pooches that he dropped inside the 20.
Carswell took over for Alford catching punts and netted more than 15 yards per return. He also produced a 38-yard kick runback.
WVU’s kick-coverage unit contained Wilson to a 21-yard return average.
Dana Holgorsen didn’t face many pivotal game-management decisions, save for trying a fourth-and-3 play at the Georgia State 25 when leading 17-0 in the third quarter. When the call failed, and GSU ripped off a 65-yard TD on the ensuing snap, there was hindsight clamoring for Holgorsen to send on Lambert. But Saturday was more about stressing his freshman quarterback, not about kicking field goals in a game WVU was never in danger of losing.
His most crucial decision occurred midweek—choosing Childress to replace Paul Millard. For three quarters, this didn’t look like the blowout fans expected. However, WVU generated three touchdown drives in the final period and Holgorsen kept his first-team offense intact throughout the afternoon, giving Childress all the reps with all the right components in place.
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WVU coach Dana Holgorsen greets Georgia State’s Trent Miles after the game.