A switch at quarterback may have been just what the doctor ordered.
Redshirt freshman Ford Childress led the Mountaineers to a 41-7 victory on Saturday afternoon at Milan Puskar Stadium. Childress threw for 359 yards and 3 touchdowns in the win. Holgorsen was encouraged by the performance of his young quarterback.
"I thought he did well for his first ever college football action," said Holgorsen. "His body language was good. He did a good job of just staying in the game."
The Mountaineer offense appeared to be consistent for the first time all season on Saturday afternoon. As a unit, they managed 604 yards of total offense. West Virginia also converted 8 of 17 third down conversions. Charles Sims had another good day as starting running back, rushing for 116 yards and 1 TD on 18 carries. Freshman Daikiel Shorts led the Mountaineer receivers with 5 receptions for 88 yards and 2 touchdowns. Despite the offense having a good day, Holgorsen was still looking for ways to improve.
"I'm still not happy where we are with tempo," said Holgorsen. "Part of that is on the coaching staff, and part of it is on the players. I got after Ford a little bit to speed things up. We'll get better."
The Mountaineers entered the contest Saturday afternoon without key defensive starters Isaiah Bruce and Doug Rigg due to injury. Despite being without Bruce and Rigg, West Virginia came close to shutting out the Panthers of Georgia State. A 65 yard touchdown run in the second half was the Panthers only score on the afternoon. The Mountaineer defense limited Georgia State to 220 yards of total offense, and just 3 for 13 on third down conversions. Defensive coordinator Keith Patterson was pleased with the performance.
"I was happy with how we played," said Patterson. "We'll enjoy this one tonight, and move on tomorrow."
West Virginia will now take to the road for the second time in the first four games when they travel to Baltimore next Saturday to faceoff with non-conference rival Maryland. But first, it's time to take a look back at the game today and what lessons can be learned.
The quarterback mystery is over, at least through the game next week. Ford Childress had an impressive performance in his first game at the helm. Childress, a Holgorsen recruit, opened eyes in his first game action. Dana was quick to compliment the redshirt freshman after the game.
"Ford showed great poise," said Holgorsen. "He is so calm, and never lets the mental side of the game affect him."
While Childress has solidified his chance for a second consecutive start against Maryland, the receivers he will be throwing too may switch once again. Kevin White, junior college transfer from Lackawanna College, got the start over redshirt sophomore KJ Myers. White had a tough day however, dropping a pass in the endzone on the first drive of the second half for the Mountaineers. Holgorsen was quick to insert Myers after the pass, and White remained on the sidelines for the rest of the game. The lack of consistency at the position forced the Mountaineers to use nine different players at the position on Saturday.
The defense once again made a statement. Three games into the season, the Mountaineer defense has allowed just 40 points. Conference play is coming soon, and the real test is about to begin.
Fans witnessed the debut of the gold helmet against Georgia State. The Mountaineers wore blue tops, gold pants and gold helmets against the Panthers. Going into the game next week, it should be interesting to see what combo the team will go with. Stay tuned for more information on this topic Tuesday evening.
All in all, the performance was solid. A clean and efficient game came at a good time for the Mountaineers. Holgorsen was pleased with the effort.
"We accomplished what we wanted too," said Holgorsen. "We got a lot of reps, and showed a lot of improvement. I also liked our energy in the second half."
West Virginia will play their last non-conference game of the season next Saturday against Maryland. Kickoff is scheduled at 3:30 p.m. in Baltimore at M & T Bank Stadium.