WVU football: Childress to get the start at QB against Georgia State
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - There isn't a lot to be said about West Virginia's offense through two games, the latest being a 16-7 loss to Oklahoma that saw a Dana Holgorsen offense finish with its lowest point total since a 30-6 loss to Colorado when he was an assistant at Texas Tech in 2006.
So, Holgorsen decided to do something about it on Thursday night, announcing on his radio show that Ford Childress will start Saturday's game against Georgia State.
"I accept full responsibility for seven points," said Holgorsen, whose team faces the Panthers (0-2) in a noon game televised on Root. "I don't care who we are playing, it's embarrassing. I've got the utmost respect for Bob and Mike Stoops, but that being said, seven points is embarrassing, and we need to fix it."
Only 19 teams have fewer touchdowns than the Mountaineers this season - and five of them have only played one game. Eight teams have played one game and scored more touchdowns.
WVU's opponent Saturday, a lowly Georgia State team that Jeff Sagarin's computer rankings say is the worst Football Bowl Subdivision team, has scored more touchdowns than WVU, as have Oregon's De'Anthony Thomas, Baylor's Lache Seastrunk and UCF's Storm Johnson.
"We've scored four touchdowns on the year," offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson said. "That's not acceptable."
Time will tell if Childress is the solution after not playing a snap in WVU's first two games.
"I feel like crap, honestly," Holgorsen said, not surprisingly, before springing the real shocker. "It goes back to the offense where we have the potential to better than we were last year. Does that mean we are better than last year, or are going to be better than last year? No. It just means we have the potential to be."
Those Mountaineers set every meaningful offensive record last season and players picked in the first, second and third rounds of the NFL Draft rewrote many records on their own. These Mountaineers could play three quarterbacks against the Panthers and will give three receivers their first career start.
WVU is very much a work in progress.
"We don't know when this team going to mesh," Dawson said. "We don't have any idea, but we are close. We really are."
Both coaches had said Paul Millard, the starting quarterback the first two games, Clint Trickett, the transfer from Florida State, and Childress, the redshirt freshman, will get into the game under ideal circumstances this week.
However, Holgorsen announced Thursday that Childress will make not just his first start, but also his collegiate debut. Only Millard and Trickett had practiced for the first two games. Childress had not taken meaningful snaps in practice since the middle of August. Holgorsen intimited that Childress will have the opportunity to play the whole game.
Junior college transfers Kevin White, Ronald Carswell and Mario Alford were atop the depth chart at their receiving positions earlier in the week. White and Carswell are outside receivers. White leads the team with seven receptions. Every one of his catches and 80 yards receiving came last week against the Sooners.
Carswell leads the team with 117 yards on five catches. He's had 69- and 33-yard receptions in the first two games, WVU's two longest passing plays this season, as well as the lone touchdown reception.
Alford is WVU's inside receiver. He has just two receptions for 11 yards, both last game, but both on the short touch pass that Geno Smith and Tavon Austin popularized the last two years.
Collectively, they replace Ivan McCartney, K.J. Myers and Daikiel Shorts, who combined for 15 receptions, 135 yards and no touchdowns in the first two games.
"After watching (the) William & Mary (game), I was convinced that we had the slowest receiving corps in the country," Holgorsen said. "When we put Ronnie in there, it looked different. We didn't have Kevin's services throughout camp. He was having a great spring and having a great camp, and then he's out for three weeks. He showed a little of what he can do last week. He looked like he was playing at a different level than some of the other guys out there.
"Mario, we just have to keep giving reps. We didn't have him for three weeks of practice, too. When we put him in there, he runs at a different speed. With those three guys, I'm not starting them because I hope they can make plays. I've seen them make plays. If those other guys want to rep, they need to prove that they can make a play and provide a tremendous amount of effort."
Establishing an order and a rotation there depends on whether those players can make plays that have not been made so far by receivers.
Shorts had seven receptions for 63 yards in the opener, but was shut out by the Sooners. McCartney couldn't hold onto a ball he had his hands on in the Oklahoma end zone. White lost a fumble when he was threatening to convert a third-and-20 and give the Mountaineers a first down in the red zone. Alford had a pass slip through his fingers against William & Mary that he could have run a long way with.
They're not alone, though. Running back Dreamius Smith had a penalty for a chop block to stall the opening drive and a few issues blocking against Oklahoma. One miss led to a sack and a lost fumble. The Mountaineers also had two penalties on the offensive line false starts and one for holding. The holding penalty on first down against Tyler Orlosky moved WVU back from OU's 25-yard line to the 35 in the third quarter and changed the possession.
"There's potential on offense, and that word disturbs me," Holgorsen said. "I don't like it very much, but there is potential on offense. A lot of people talk about how talented we are. Even guys on our team talk about how talented we are. We need to prove that, we need to make some plays.
"You need to make plays when you are put into those situations, and if you don't, we will try and put some other guys in those situations. We will get better offensively."
To do so may require another fix. Do the Mountaineers have to find a quarterback before all the other parts realize their potential or do the other parts have to fall into place to facilitate the quarterback decision?
"It's kind of like the chicken and the egg," said Dawson, who doubles as the quarterbacks coach. "I have no idea, really. I don't have an answer for that question, but I do think one of those three needs to take it and run with it. This is a golden opportunity."
That would then put the pressure on Millard, Trickett and Childress to do their job before everyone else can do theirs.
"I've always thought it was the chicken," Dawson said.
Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at email@example.com or 304-319-1142. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/wvu.