"We've got to have some guys step up and start making plays with the football,'' Dawson said. "But at least statistically we put something together.''
Indeed, statistically at least there was nothing at all wrong with West Virginia's performance. Consider that the Mountaineers rolled up those 604 yards of total offense and had the sort of pass-heavy "balance'' that Holgorsen cherishes. WVU ran for 245 yards to go with Childress' 359 passing yards, the Mountaineers had 30 first downs, converted nearly half (eight of 17) of their third downs and punted just three times. All but one of WVU's 13 possessions reached into Georgia State territory.
The WVU defense was working, too. The Panthers punted on 10 of their 13 legitimate possessions, gained just 220 yards, completed only eight passes and got nearly half their 136 rushing yards on their only scoring play, a 65-yard run by Travis Evans. Thirteen times Georgia State faced third downs and failed to convert on 10 of them.
And still it wasn't until the fourth quarter that the game became a blowout. Charles Sims, who rushed for 116 yards on 18 carries, scored from 32 yards out on the first play of the fourth quarter and Shorts made a diving catch in the end zone for his second TD catch of the game three minutes later. That made it 34-7 and Dreamius Smith rounded out the scoring with a 10-yard run in the waning seconds.
Still, perhaps it was a step in the right direction. In the first two games - a win over William & Mary and a loss to Oklahoma - Paul Millard had a few (although not nearly as many) chances to hit open receivers and didn't. Childress did. He and the West Virginia offense might not be anywhere near the well-oiled machine of last season, but it might be a step closer now to being competent.
"I thought he did a good job of just being in the game,'' Holgorsen said of his rookie quarterback. "And that's what we're looking for. If you have a guy like that, then he can bring a lot of other guys along.''
They had better begin coming along fast, though, because that might be it for West Virginia this season as far as easy opponents are concerned. Next week the Mountaineers play Maryland at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore and then the following week resume Big 12 play by hosting Oklahoma State.
Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or dphickm...@aol.com or follow him at Twitter.com/dphickman1.