MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Even after taking a helmet to the chin in his first college start, West Virginia quarterback Ford Childress isn’t adjusting his attitude.
“I like blitzes,” said the redshirt freshman, who should love what Maryland has in store this week.
Though Childress was sacked twice by Georgia State actually, he absorbed his most jarring hit on a 21-yard, fourth-quarter completion to Daikiel Shorts. As Panthers linebacker Jarrell Robinson spilled through the middle of the line, Childress stepped into the throw barely a nano-second before being crunched.
“He got under my chin,” Childress said. “It was a little uncomfortable.”
But productive quarterbacks see explosive potential amid those uncomfortable moments. When defenses load up pressure packages, they’re capable of being exploited—provided the quarterback has enough time and nerve.
“It’s easy to get a really big play out of it when they blitz,” Childress said. “You hit them in the voided area and then we can get a big shot in. Sometimes I’ll have to take a shot, but I don’t mind doing that.”
Maryland (3-0), which tops the nation with 15 sacks this season, figures to stay aggressive against West Virginia (2-1) on Saturday in Baltimore. During last week’s 32-21 win at UConn, the Terps rang up six sacks.
“(Maryland) can blitz all they want; as long as we pick it up we’ll make big plays out of it.” — West Virginia offensive lineman guard Mark Glowinski
“They can blitz all they want; as long as we pick it up we’ll make big plays out of it,” said WVU guard Mark Glowinski before heading off to watch video of the Terps defense.
Of particular note is outside linebacker Marcus Whitfield, who has compiled 5.5 sacks both coming off the edge and stunting inside. “I’ll find out more from film and see if what he does is anything spectacular,” Glowinski said.
To some extent, West Virginia’s pass-protection failings last week were a bi-product of Childress facing competing agendas in his first start. With head coach Dana Holgorsen pushing him to ramp up the offensive tempo, Childress sometimes didn’t allow his offensive linemen time to change their blocking calls after the Georgia State defense jumped out of its original alignment.
“Some of that was on me,” Childress said. “I know now that (the linemen) need their time, so that they can protect me.”
In search of a silver lining, offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson lauded Childress for shaking off the knockdowns to throw for 359 yards and three touchdowns.
“A lot of time you get hit and you get antsy,” Dawson said. “But he did a really good job of standing in the pocket, taking some really good hits and delivering accurate balls.”
After Maryland lost both starting cornerbacks to injuries, you might expect the Terps to play more zone coverage in hopes of protecting the newbies, but Dawson isn’t banking on such a philosophical shift. Edsall’s defenses have been blitz-reliant for years and West Virginia’s downfield passing game through three weeks has been spotty.
“I don’t think they’re going to change their mentality at all,” Dawson said, “because we haven’t made a lot of plays down the field. Why would anyone come out and be threatened by us? We have to produce and make some plays before we can change the defense’s mentality.”
Click to view Ford Childress on preparing for Maryland: