I should have told you yesterday, way after I started hyperventilating about not being able to bring this to you today, but there’s a second television and DVR in my house, and a house guest Saturday who didn’t go to the game and instead watched it in from my living room recorded it for me.
“I noticed it wasn’t recording, and I know you normally record it, so I hit ‘record,’ ” he said.
So simple, so profound. So thank Jeremy Jones for all that follows here today. He saved us from an unprecedented and hopefully never duplicated Tier 4 malfunction.
I was angry about losing the recording because while the game wasn’t really enlightening or exciting live, I wanted to give it a second glance and see what more I could learn that I didn’t grasp live. True, that’s the point every week behind doing this, but there was so much to take in Saturday. New quarterback, new receivers, new center, Dreamius Smith blocking, a little bit of bubble gum and some rubber bands on defense, so on and so forth.
It wasn’t pretty or even all that comfortable, but it was a win and WVU goes to Baltimore at 2-1 to play a Maryland team that’s 3-0 for the first time in 12 years and has an offense that ought to scare you.
How did we get here? Let’s find out by taking a look at The Good and the Bad of WVU v. Georgia State.
Bad: Opening statement
Oh, wait. Wrong game. Right play, but wrong game. Let me try again.
That’s more like it. This is how the opponent has started the past two games. Essentially the same play, but on one K.J. Dillon goes inside and lets the tight end take care of him and on the other Daryl Worley, who started for Dillon, goes outside and lets the tight end take care of him and Karl Joseph. If WVU starts in a nickel defense for a third straight game, doesn’t Maryland have to run left?
That play aside, he was fine on defense. Certainly not overmatched, and I liked how defensive coordinator Keith Patterson put on his lab coat late in the game and brought Worley on some blitzes.
I’m really interested in how Saturday’s game affects his future. He was WVU’s second-string field corner (he still is) and he was going to end up playing one way or another. Maybe this is part of that. Can he be a nickel back? A dime back? Does Patterson build off this and use Worley in some plays where a defensive back can blitz? We don’t know, but we have to think that Patterson has to think about it now.
And on top of that, he was great on special teams. Blocked well on punt returns and covered kickoffs nicely. He was the team’s special teams player of the week.
Confession: I have no idea what poise is. I mean, I do, but I’m often inundated with that word to the extent I lose sight of the meaning. It’s just a very popular word used to describe a whole lot of things. Coach Dana Holgorsen said “poise” four times when describing his new starting quarterback Saturday afternoon, which is impressive from a postgame press conference standpoint.
But I think that play is poise. He’s got a defender falling to his feet and a clock in his head ticking away quickly, but he doesn’t bail, or even retreat, and jams a pass into Cody Clay’s breadbasket. That play could have gone in many other directions, but Childress kept his head and avoided all the other outcomes. Early on, that was neat to see.
Bad: Jitters? Not noodles, though.
What was inarguable, though never stated or admitted by the coaches, was that Childress’ ascent was at least partly related to Paul Millard’s arm strength that was noticeably lacking at Oklahoma. (Aside: Millard did not rep last week.) We’re in the nit-picking, getting-to-know-you phase with Childress, and it was his first game, but his arm, while big, was off.
I’m willing to chalk all this up to the things that happen and that you fear will happen during the first game, but they’re worth looking at as we learn more about Childress. He was mad at himself for not leading Kevin White farther on the first throw and not leading Ronald Carswell into the end zone on the third. He ‘ll learn to use the space between Carswell and the sideline when he’s throwing passes up the rail, like he is in the second play. He said he was alarmed by how open Ivan McCartney was on the fourth one and that he didn’t want to underthrow or overthrow it.
For now, you circle it and assume it becomes more consistent. After all that, I’ll say this: He throws a nice deep ball. It’s not Jack Trudeau In Tecmo Bowl, but it’s not bad, either.
Good: And now I make your head spin
I honestly like his arm and the way it appears he trusts it. This is a pretty bold throw given the circumstances. He’s shuffling and tapping the ball and a guy is getting chop blocked at his feet. He doesn’t get all the way into it, but he snaps off a throw that travels 38 yards to Mario Alford to get what would have been a first down.
That throw, in one fashion or another, is a necessity in Holgorsen’s offense. Geno Smith was pretty good at it, too.
Watch the play again. Charles Sims gets a personal foul penalty for a chop block. That’s not his fault. He cuts his guy as he enters his front yard, and right guard Mark Glowinski innocently turns, sees a defender’s numbers and takes care of him. He had no idea Sims had cut the defender already.
They both did what they’re supposed to do, but that they did it together is what draws a penalty. You can’t be mad at Glowinski, unless you want him to let guys run through the line. Offensive line coach Ron Crook saw it similarly.
(Aside: I think Pat Eger was good as the starting center. I couldn’t tell how the communication or the snap calls went, but he blocked the same as he always does and at least he didn’t get an illegal snap penalty like Georgia State’s center. Still, his snaps need more zip and he can’t let them fade left or right. WVU nearly fumbled once because of a snap to Childress’ right that he reached to snatch and then had to hurry to put in Wendell Smallwood’s grasp. Childress tried so hard that he overextended and put the ball on Smallwood’s hip and Smallwood was wise to scrap the play and make sure he had the ball. I’d show you this, but Root Sports was in the middle of a replay.)
I will investigate this during the week, I promise, but there seems to be something to Childress + playaction. Saturday, that something was 7-for-10 for 183 yards and three scores. It gave Georgia State fits, which, fine, Georgia State, but Childress looked comfortable. He did some shotgun playaction stuff and some pistol playaction stuff, that with rollouts that worked and did not work, but the ones under center were the best.
Obviously, WVU under center smells like a run and because he’s under center, Childress extends the ball early and for a long time. That’s a magnet for the linebackers, especially when you’re jumping on the run like the Panthers were. It works just fine here as the linebackers step in and McCartney exploits the space.
He might have run a great route here, too. He made sure right away that he was inside the cornerback and that the defender could never get inside to defend that play. The safety sees that, too, but McCartney sells a deep route, which keeps the safety deep. McCartney then smoothly angles into the middle and it’s an easy pitch-and-catch.
By the way, I suspected this in the game post, but Childress later confirmed the touchdown to McCartney was the same play that he threw his interception on earlier. They added a double move for McCartney to make sure he’d get past the defender, who would likely be on the lookout for the play since McCartney beat him deep earlier. Splendid.
He was really good. He responded perfectly to the adversity, real or fabricated, that comes with not catching the touchdown pass at Oklahoma and losing a starting spot. That answered a lot of questions, for me at least.
Good and bad, for the new crowd.
I was all excited about Dontrill Hyman spinning and slapping people early in the game, but it looked like he wore down a bit as the game progressed. He’ll have to get better wind as the season progresses. But in spurts, he was very hard to block and he kept mixing up his attack.
And, goodness, what a play this was.
And, goodness, what a play this was.
That should be an interception, almost always. How Ricky Rumph and Travis Bell don’t at least get a hand on the ball or, I don’t know, defend the receiver is hard to explain.
Until Patterson explains it …
“We should have had the sack there, but what happens is guys get caught watching the play. I know exactly what happened. We think we have him sacked and he’s running for his life and all of a sudden Dontrill just airmails the guy. I mean, good grief, that was a hit.
“But I’m telling you, they were probably sitting there, watching that going ‘Whoa,’ and they let their guard down.”
I have the power to make decisions like this. I just had a lot of fun watching him when he was spry Saturday. He doesn’t get the sack here, but he makes it possible. The Georgia State quarterback probably didn’t even know his name at this point, but he knew Hyman’s.
And while we’re here, that’s two above average games in a row for the defensive line. Clarke is consistently a factor. Kyle Rose played well in his start. The Mountaineers are excited to unleash a healthy Noble Nwachukwu. This helps the defensive backs and the linebackers appreciably, and it absolutely had to happen.
Now, if they could only get more consistent pressure on the quarterback without involving the defensive backs and linebackers, that would do wonders for the entire plan.
I have a hard time describing the way I feel about this play. I’m disappointed Childress decided to make the throw, but I’m not surprised he acted quickly against a rather obvious blitz and trusted his arm. There are worse offenses for a freshman quarterback, and, by the way, freshman quarterbacks make these kinds of plays.
But I’m also surprised he abandoned his mechanics like he did. This was uncharacteristic, though it was also against a zero coverage blitz.
I’m confident Maryland spotted this.
This play is blocked perfectly and, despite what Rob King has to say, it is Sims who has a chance to score here. In the press box, Hertz and I wondered if maybe Sims should be scoring on plays like that. It’s there for him. He’s got to make that safety miss or chase.
I like Sims’ cuts. I think the Slaton comparisons end right there, though.
Picturesque. That’s how it’s supposed to happen, 1 through 11 on that play. The right side of the line goes left, the left side sets the edge, Clay does this weird hand jive thing that he does all the time and freezes the back side just a little bit and Smith closes that end of the play.
Sims teases a straight-line run to draw the outside defender in and Clay makes that dude disappear. Carswell chicken fights a cornerback and Smith finishes strong. That’s very good.
A lot of people are going to blame Dreamius Smith for letting Childress get smoked on the fourth-down sack that follows this sequence. Something bad happened for a play to fall apart like that one did, and it was so messy that I have a hard time deciphering it. Smith at least had reason to be alarmed about the defender screaming around the right end, but you have to think the more immediate concern is the unmolested linebacker screaming louder through the B gap.
Anyhow, that definitely happened and I’m sure it was treated appropriately by the coaches, but that happened after this happened. I don’t know what the deal is. Fatigue? Confusion? Uncertainty? He’s running the ball wonderfully, but his blocking is a thing now, evident, I think, by his whiff on the first play and his immediate look to the sideline. He did make a few blocks on the run and in pass protection, but consistency is the goal.
Did anyone have a problem with #TeamGoForIt? It was totally forgivable to me because, as we wondered aloud in the press box, how in the world is Georgia State going to score?
Welp, that’s how.
Notice that Eric Kinsey (45) and Brandon Golson (2) are both on the field for this play. They’re both Buck linebackers, and Kinsey has only a little more experience than you do out there, unless you are, say, Dozie Ezemma. (Hi, Dozie!)
This play gets all screwed up when the tight end motions and the Bucks react the same way, which was suboptimal. Again, allow Patterson to explain …
I’m not sure this is accurate, but I feel like he played 115 snaps Saturday. He was a linebacker, he was a nose guard, he was a defensive tackle and he was effective everywhere. I never saw him at defensive end, though. I bring this up because last Tuesday, he sounded genuinely excited about his move from starting defensive end to backup Buck. Good for him.
(Aside: He remains the backup Buck. WVU’s depth chart contains only slight changes. Childress is the starter — all three quarterbacks were listed as co-starters last week — and the three receivers who were crowned starters last week wear the crown again this week, including Kevin White. The only change? Terrell Chestnut, who made his season debut Saturday and had his only tackle on the kickoff return that ended the game, is the backup boundary corner. Chestnut had a knee injury in the Pinstripe Bowl that required surgery.)
The attendance was fine and their behavior was well above board, but listen closely to one distinct voice early in that clip. I’m pretty sure he was being serious. (Also, where do you stand on Nick O’Toole The Punter, which is different than Nick O’Toole The Fan Favorite Because of his Mustache?)
Good: K.J Myers
Similar to McCartney, though not probably not with the same dread or depth, you probably wondered how K.J. Myers would respond to losing his spot to White. In reality, the thought should have been devoted to how White would respond. Dropped passes Saturday on the heels of that costly fumble at Oklahoma don’t help.
White is a better receiver — I was told after the game “Kevin is our best receiver.” — and Myers is not particularly fast or explosive. He’s a little of each, don’t get me wrong, or he wouldn’t be where he is. But Childress knows Myers has good hands, which led to the team-high six catches for 64 yards after White literally dropped the ball in the third quarter.
Despite all of that, this action at the top of the screen was my favorite play. I keep telling you he’s a very, very good blocker, which is why he plays the left tight end spot on kickoff returns.
I thought he was intimidated against Oklahoma and that a combination of things took him out of the game and kept him completely off the stat sheet. Maybe being home is good for him or he realized he had an edge against an inferior defense Saturday. Whatever the case, WVU needs him. Needs him to be confident, needs him to complement the different Alford, needs him to be more 5-88-2 than 0-0-0.
Watch him from above, where you see things better than the broadcast and especially the Root Sports broadcast allows, and see him run routes and you notice quickly he’s very sharp and he’s quick to the opening. He doesn’t give it away before he’s open, either, which is a nice trait for a freshman.
Everything comes together here as he starts in the slot on the left, angles across the field behind the rapidly retreating linebackers (AHEM! Playaction!) and stays beneath the safeties to set a course for the right sideline in the end zone.
(Side Good: My man H-James (89) mauled the guy on the right side there.)
Good: More Shorts
This is the play, though, that earned him the team’s offensive player of the week award. And if you’ll allow me to rewind quite a bit, remember when I expressed surprise at Childress bailing out when he threw his interception. Well, Friday and early Saturday the thing People casually mentioned to me was that Childress doesn’t move — and you’ll note that Dana has praised that poise similarly in his comments. Watch him take the shot here. Lesson learned, yes?
What surprises me the most about Nick Kwiatkoski is that he can hit. He tackles, securely, but he hits pretty hard, too, which is why I want to learn and share the proper pronunciation of his name. But this is a guy who has been in the program for three years now, who feels like he belongs and thus proves it and who is a very tidy 235 pounds, which allows for movement and pop at middle linebacker.
He’s happening before your eyes and before Patterson’s eyes. The fumble in this clip is just instinct and technique merging at the proper moment. The sack is worth remembering: WVU doesn’t blitz middle linebackers. Kwiatkoski is a middle linebacker, which means Patterson has another option for offenses to consider when they try to guess the identity of the fourth and/or fifth rusher.
In the past, it was one of the outside linebackers, or both. This season, they’re still coming, but we’ve seen safeties, nickel backs and even a cornerback come, too. Add middle linebacker to the list and remember how tricky this plays is. He’s coming through the middle and that’s the easiest pressure for a quarterback to avoid. He’s quicker than Kwiatkoski and he can use both sides of Kwiatkoski and both ends of the line of scrimmage as an escape route. Kwiatkoski simply doesn’t care and he’s happy to get some help from — take a guess — a blitzing Daryl Worley.