"He's emerged as the guy that can handle the load," Kirkland said. "I think he's playing well and he's getting more comfortable in our system. He's handling it very well and he's a talented back."
As dismal as State's offense was in being shut out and limited to just 142 total yards and six first downs, the one bright spot was backup quarterback Joe Thornton.
In weather conditions that hindered throwing the football, Anderson inserted Thornton as a running threat and the sophomore responded with 27 yards on five attempts and completed the only pass he threw for 3 yards.
Through three games, State is scoring 5.33 points per game, but Anderson said he doesn't expect to insert any wildcat formations and that he and his staff aren't panicking just yet.
"On defense, you can put new people together and as long as they play physical and with heart and passion you're going to be OK," Anderson said. "You put a bunch of new guys together on offense, if not everybody is on the same page and taking the same step, it's tough. We're really working to get some success offensively and get some confidence in these guys. We're not panicking or changing what we believe in because I really feel two things are going to pay off for us - passion and hard work."
Both State and UC have 1 p.m. kickoffs this Saturday and will look to build on the positives from last week. After three road games to start the year, UC will finally debut in front of its home fans at University of Charleston Stadium as it takes on Notre Dame College. State will hit the road to take on Fairmont State.
Another full slate of conference games is on tap this weekend with all of them coming on Saturday.
The premier matchup seems to be Concord (2-1, 1-0) at West Liberty (2-1, 2-0) in a battle of league unbeatens scheduled for a 1 p.m. kickoff.
Glenville State (1-2, 1-1) will head to Urbana (1-2, 1-1) in the league's earliest game at noon.
Shepherd (3-0, 2-0) will look to remain unblemished as it travels to West Virginia Wesleyan for a 1 p.m. start wile Virginia-Wise (0-3, 0-2) will play the only nonconference game in the league this week when it hosts Union at 6 p.m.
Reach Ryan Pritt at 304-348-7948, ryan.pr...@wvgazette.com, or follow him at twitter.com/RPritt.