It is a testament to the wholesale ineptitude of WVU's entire offense and specifically quarterback Ford Childress that on a day when Terrapin uber-weapon Stefon Diggs was held to his lowest total in his career - 2 catches for 13 yards - the Mountaineers were still blown out 37-0 in a game that was never close and will be notable for the questions it leaves it its wake.
In a game they never game themselves a chance to win, WVU turned the ball over 6 times resulting in 24 Maryland points. The defense played pretty deceptively well in an effort that didn't have many missed tackles, big plays or blown assignments. A look at the box score confirms that this was a failing of the WVU offense at every conceivable level as they dropped their first game to the Terps since the invention of Facebook. A scant 7 days after the most statistically impressive debut of a freshman signal caller in WVU history, QB Ford Childress looked as lost at the position as anyone ever has and leaves in his wake a mountain of questions about the future.
The numbers are ugly. The Terrapins ran 72 total plays and gained 330 total yards for an unimpressive average of 4.6 yards per play (that would place them 111th nationally if it were a season stat). The Mountaineers on the other hand ran only 47 plays. The average doesn't matter - when you run 25 fewer plays than an opponent, it's because you're giving them more possessions. That's a result of turnovers and inability to move the ball - no more, no less.
Numbers aside, Childress looked laughably over-matched the entire game. He consistently was soft on his passes, slow on his handoffs and a couple times seemed unsure as to what play was being run. The shots down-field were never even close and the screens were too soft to get to receivers in time to make a play effective. Things took forever to develop and when they did yielded nothing. Most egregious of his errors were a pick 6 that resulted from a soft toss on an out route and a tipped ball that was intercepted by the Terps at the WVU 6 right before the half. The double gut shots resulted in 14 UM points.
Here's your key stat of the game - one Mountaineer receiver caught a ball all day (ONE WIDE RECEIVER!!) - Ronald Carswell for 12 yards on the first drive of the game. That's all. All the other catches went to running backs flaring out of the backfield. Don't misunderstand what happened - guys weren't dropping balls or running the wrong routes - they were never even given a chance to make a play on the ball. At no time did Childress look like he had any command of the offense.
The major questions coming out of this will be regarding Dana Holgorsen's ability to get this offense on track. The defense looked fantastic and shockingly never threw in the towel and the special teams - outside of some suspect decisions on kick returns and one muffed punt by Carswell that resulted in a Terrapin TD - was solid. Punter Nick O'Toole did his mustache proud punting 8 times for a 46.1 average and a long of 54.
It's difficult to feel like Childress can grasp the reigns, but Paul Millard didn't seem much more effective against Oklahoma and Trickett remains an unknown quantity. Dana Holgorsen is about to face the most difficult week of his career as Mountaineer fans and media alike will be clamoring for answers. With high-powered Oklahoma State and Baylor next up on the schedule (both teams will be coming off byes), those answers need to come fast.
We came into this game expecting this Mountaineer team to define themselves, but what we saw on Saturday afternoon isn't what any of us had in mind.