MORGANTOWN, W.V. -- For much of Saturday's game, the eventual offensive dominance would have seemed unlikely. Yet at the end of West Virginia's 41-7 win against Georgia State, the Mountaineers had more than 600 yards with a 300-yard passer, a 100-yard rusher and a receiver with multiple touchdown catches.
Along the way, the Mountaineers probably found their quarterback, too, in redshirt freshman Ford Childress.
"If it's not, then I'm not very smart," Coach Dana Holgorsen said. "We just gave him 100 percent of the reps."
Childress completed 25 of 41 passes for 359 yards and three touchdowns in his collegiate debut. Perhaps more significantly, neither Paul Millard nor Clint Trickett played in the blowout witnessed by 57,440 at Mountaineer Field. Both had been ahead of Childress on the depth chart before Saturday.
Holgorsen announced Thursday that Childress would start and the Houston native led the offense to scores on three straight possessions to pull away in the second half.
He hadn't taken any meaningful practice reps before the first two games, never mind play in those.
"Obviously I was mad," he said. "I wanted to start. I kept practicing hard and all that and I finally got my start."
Holgorsen praised Childress for his poise and his presence in the pocket when confronted with pressure more than he admired the throws and the statistics. The only complaint was that Childress couldn't set and sustain the pace Holgorsen wanted and eventually complained to his starter about in the third quarter.
Childress' absence had in part been explained by saying he wasn't as familiar with the hand signals from the sideline as he needed to be. He said the communication is something that has to improve, but that there are problems built into catching his coach's signals when Holgorsen tries to get "cute."
"He tries to hide them and stuff and he's got little, small fingers, so it gets kind of confusing," Childress said.
There was some clarity on a day when Holgorsen anointed new starters at three receiver positions and was looking for players to take control of certain roles and positions.
Freshman Daikiel Shorts caught five passes for 88 yards and two touchdowns and junior college transfer Ronald Carswell added three receptions for 67 yards and had a 43-yard catch to keep up his big-play pattern.
Sophomore K.J. Myers, who lost his starting spot this week to junior college transfer Kevin White, had six receptions for 64 yards, all of that in the second half after White was benched when he dropped a sure touchdown pass. Ivan McCartney, who lost his starting spot to Carswell, caught two passes for 66 yards and scored once. It was his first touchdown since a win against Bowling Green in 2011.
For balance, running back Charles Sims had 116 yards rushing and a touchdown on 18 carries and Dreamius Smith and Wendell Smallwood combined for 122 yards on 20 carries. Smith scored on a 10-yard run on fourth-and-1 with 17 seconds left in the game.
Yet a handful of the incomplete passes to count against Childress were dropped passes and Childress was sacked three times, including once on a fourth down that seemed significant at the time.
"It was a frustrating game overall offensively, in my opinion," offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Shannon Dawson said. "For some reason or another, we spit and sputter and drop balls or let a guy come through a gap untouched. Statistically, we ended up putting some things together to win the game. I guess that's a positive."
WVU (2-1) finished with 604 yards of offense and allowed only 220 -- 84 passing and 136 rushing with 65 of those coming on one play. The Mountaineers played without linebackers Doug Rigg (concussion) and Isaiah Bruce (leg) and safety K.J. Dillon (leg). Backup defensive tackle Christian Brown left the game in the first half and did not return.
Through a bunch of mixing and matching on defense, linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski had nine tackles, one sack, one tackle for a loss and one forced fumble that set up a touchdown in the fourth quarter.
Georgia State receiver Albert Wilson, who leads all active Football Bowl Subdivision players in career yards per catch and is No. 4 in career receiving yards per game, didn't catch a pass. Georgia State (0-3) only completed eight passes.