WVU head Coach Dana Holgorsen was so dissatisfied with the quality of play at quarterback over the first two games of the season that he reached down to the third guy on the depth chart to lead the Mountaineers this past Saturday.
The results were somewhat encouraging, as redshirt freshman Ford Childress was 25 of 41 for 359 passing yards in a 41-7 win over Georgia State. Childress clearly has a strong arm and the ability to throw the deep ball, something that was missing with Paul Millard in the first two encounters.
But before we start making bowl reservations, we must view the performance of the WVU offense in context. This was against Georgia State, perhaps the worst FBS team in the country, a team which had surrendered a total of 73 points to the likes of Samford and Chattanooga. Yet the Mountaineers were only able to put 20 points on the board in the first three quarters and did not put the game away until the fourth, tallying three touchdowns against a worn down Panther defense.
This is a game in which one would have expected a West Virginia offensive line to dominate the line of scrimmage, yet it didn't happen. Seven times the Mountaineers incurred losses on running plays. On at least four occasions blitzing linebackers confused the WVU offensive line and were untouched heading to the quarterback. While Childress was effective throwing the football when he had time in the pocket, defensive coordinators of future West Virginia opponents surely will notice the struggles protecting against an aggressive pass rush.
The WVU offense will improve at the skill positions, as young players like Childress gain more experience. But the jury is still out on a questionable offensive line which will need to get better as well. Skills at quarterback, running back and wide receiver are great to have, but these players cannot be effective unless their offense can consistently control the line of scrimmage.
On defense the Mountaineers were solid except for a 65 yard touchdown run early in the third quarter. But the WVU defenders have yet to face a high quality quarterback. That run is about to end. It will be interesting to see how the stop unit fares over the next few weeks.
The new WVU uniforms allow for a myriad of color schemes and combinations. For the first time Saturday the Mountaineers wore gold helmets along with gold pants and blue jerseys. An informal poll of those seated in our area was thumbs down on the gaudy helmets. But I guess time has passed by the traditionalists among us.
THIS SATURDAY: In the Don Nehlen days the early season game against the Maryland Terrapins was often a barometer of how good a season our Mountaineer football team was to have, and in 2013 that again will be the case. The game will be played at the Ravens NFL stadium in Baltimore, and the crowd should be about evenly divided at a true neutral field environment.
The Terps have won all three games against mediocre competition, but have shown they are clicking on all cylinders on offense. In their 32-21 win at Connecticut Saturday quarterback C.J.Brown put up 277 passing yards and rushed for another 122. The Mountaineer offense will need to get better quick or the seven game WVU winning streak in this series is in jeopardy. MARYLAND 24 WEST VIRGINIA 20