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Will Freshman QB Ford Childress Provide West Virginia the Spark It Needs?

LANDOVER, MD - SEPTEMBER 15:  West Virginia Mountaineers head coach Dana Holgorsen looks on during a game against the James Madison Dukes at FedExField on September 15, 2012 in Landover, Maryland.  (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
Patrick McDermott/Getty Images
Ben KerchevalCollege Football Lead WriterSeptember 13, 2013

Changing quarterbacks midseason isn't something West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen is accustomed to doing. 

But 2013 is a year of changes it seems for the Mountaineers. 

Holgorsen announced Thursday during his weekly call-in show that redshirt freshman Ford Childress would start Saturday against Georgia State. And forget a QB rotation, too. Barring injury, Childress will start and finish against against the Panthers, Holgorsen said. 

“It’s his time, it’s his job and we’re going to see what he can do,” Holgorsen said via West Virginia MetroNews. “We opened (the competition) up on Tuesday and Ford took it and ran with it. He threw the ball as well as he’s ever thrown it and he managed the huddle really good.”

Holgorsen said during his time on Monday's Big 12 coaches teleconference that he would shake things up at the quarterback and wide receiver spots following the Mountaineers' 16-7 loss to Oklahoma. 

Putting in a quarterback who's never played a down at the college level would certainly fall under the "shaking things up" category. For what it's worth, Childress was a decisive third on the depth chart behind Paul Millard and Clint Trickett as the season began. 

Without seeing Childress in any sort of game action, it's impossible to tell how he's going to look. But here's what we do know: This is an instance where the backup quarterback is the fan's choice for favorite player. 

Millard has a history of being all over the place with his decision making, something Holgorsen admitted as recently as last month. Against Oklahoma, the junior struggled to sustain drives due largely in part to a poor third-down percentage. 

And the only sample size anyone has of Trickett are two three-and-outs in Week 1 against William & Mary. 

Childress has the physical tools Millard and Trickett do not (he's listed at 6'5" and 234 pounds). The question is whether he has it going on upstairs to finally get the WVU offense clicking. He certainly has the football background from his father, Ray,who was a five-time NFL Pro Bowl selection

There are other factors to consider as well. Can the WVU offensive line give Childress time to throw? Which receivers emerge? Ronald Carswell and Kevin White have been the closest players resembling a downfield threat through the first two games and Childress has the strongest arm of the three quarterbacks. 

The re-emergence of the vertical passing game that has been lacking since the departures of Geno Smith, Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey would be a huge boost for this offense. 

Ideally for Holgorsen, Childress will gain some confidence against Georgia State, who is winless on the season, because the following game is a road trip to Maryland. The Terps, for all their past injury troubles, should be 3-0 heading into their game against WVU and are quietly getting off to a good start under Randy Edsall. 

If the passing game can open up with Childress behind center, there may be some hope for at least a .500 season for West Virginia yet.  

Ben Kercheval is the lead writer for Big 12 football. All quotes and information obtained firsthand unless noted otherwise. You can follow Ben on Twitter @BenKercheval

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