Childress Sets Freshman Record in WVU Debut - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

Childress Sets Freshman Record in WVU Debut


Ford Childress was angry when he saw that his name was the only one on the preseason depth chart that was not still up for consideration for starting quarterback.

His reps were taken away as juniors Paul Millard and Clint Trickett used their experience to convince head coach Dana Holgorsen that they were the best options. Entering a week two meeting with Oklahoma, the staff still only considered Millard and Trickett and yet three days later, they had seen enough from Childress to give him the job.

Ever since he was initially demoted, though, the redshirt freshman was preparing as though his turn was approaching.

"Last year, when I redshirted, I knew I wasn't going to play," said Childress. "But this year, at first, when I got my reps cut, Shannon was like, ‘You're going to play this year. You are. You can't goof off, you've got to stay focused.' I knew that I was going to play this year, so I just acted like I was still the starter."

The first chance he got to start, he set a freshman record at WVU with 359 yards passing, beating out the previous mark set by Scott McBrien back in 2000. Childress did it on 25-of-41 passing with three touchdowns and one interception.
"Got my first touchdown and got my first pick, so everything is open now," he said with a smile.

Most importantly, he got his first win. Childress got to experience his first college football game against a team that had no right to hang with the Mountaineers. His mistakes, like a second quarter interception, could be atoned for. And they were as he came back with two of his touchdowns after finding the wrong colored jersey.

He admits to having been confused by the Georgia State defense on the play that led to West Virginia's only turnover of the day, but he never lost any of his confidence. 

"One good thing he did, too, is he threw the pick and then he came back," said offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson. "He had some adversity happen, he came back and made some tough throws, which was positive."

Those are precisely the sort of things the coaching staff wanted to see from Childress in this first college outing. It wasn't so much the completion percentage, yards or touchdowns, but the intangibles. With a player who initially lost the job for lack of experience, there had to be signs that he could be accountable and focused when given the opportunity.

"I thought his body language was good and that he handled everything well," Holgorsen said of Childress. "He was communicating well with the running backs, receivers, in the huddle and with [offensive coordinator] Shannon [Dawson]. I thought he did a good job of being in the game. That is what we were looking for. If you have a guy like that, then he can bring a lot of other guys along."

Childress' favorite target on the day was fellow freshman Daikiel Shorts, connecting with the receiver for two of his three touchdowns. He also got senior Ivan McCartney in the end zone for the first time this season on a 45-yard pass in the second quarter.

"Ford looked pretty good," McCartney said of his quarterback. "He looked very poised. He took control of the offense and he was our captain today and he led us to victory."

Both McCartney and Shorts said that there wasn't too much of a difference with Childress in the game than with Millard throwing to them. They spent the entire summer and all of camp catching passes from all three quarterbacks, so it was natural to be on the receiving end of whichever one tossed it their way.

Speaking of those quarterbacks, Dawson made it clear earlier in the week that he wants both Millard and Trickett to stay just as focused and as ready as Childress did, knowing their name could be called at a moment's notice. On Saturday, they both jumped all over Childress after he threw his first career touchdown pass in the first quarter.

"It's great. All of us like each other, so there's never that guy that you kind of just want to hit or something like that," Childress said. "Before the game, too, they both came up to me and were supporting me and all of that, so it felt really good."

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