With his broad smile and shoulder-length brown hair, Ford Childress radiates a certain boyish charm.
Today, though, this redshirt freshman quarterback will be introduced to the rough-and-tumble ways of big-time college football when West Virginia (2-1) faces Maryland (3-0) at M&T Bank Stadium, the home of the Baltimore Ravens.
Childress set a Mountaineers freshman passing record in his debut a week ago, throwing for 359 yards and three touchdowns in a 41-7 victory against Georgia State. But this will be an altogether different test.
Maryland boasts a defense that has allowed just 13.7 points per game this season and leads Division I-A with 14 sacks. West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen said he expects the blitz-happy Terrapins to stack the box and come after Childress in hopes of rattling him and challenging this still unproven passing attack.
West Virginia (2-1) vs. Maryland (3-0), 3:30 p.m. today, M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore. Terrapins favored by 5.
- TV, Radio, Internet:
ESPNU, Mountaineer Sports Network, Sirius 117, XM 202.
- West Virginia:
Has used 29 players this season who, before 2013, had never appeared in a game, including 14 first-time starters. ... Dating to 1980, holds a 165-12-1 record when scoring 30 or more points in a game.
Has committed just 2.33 penalties per game ... CB Dexter McDougle had two interceptions a week ago, returning one for a touchdown, but his season was ended because of a shoulder injury.
- Hidden stat:
Maryland is one of three teams to tally more than 500 yards of total offense in each of its first three games this season.
"Maryland will zero blitz us and pressure us," Holgorsen said. "They might do it every single snap. If they do, we have to handle it."
"I like blitzes," Childress responded with a grin. "It's easy to get a big play out of it. Sometimes I'll have to take a shot, but I don't really mind that."
The Terrapins employ a 3-4 defensive scheme led by a trove of impact linebackers -- Marcus Whitfield, fresh off a three-sack performance against Connecticut, and leading tackler Cole Farrand, to name two.
Maryland's biggest threat, though, plays on the other side of the ball.
Sophomore receiver Stefon Diggs has 387 yards and three touchdowns on 16 receptions this season. Diggs and dual-threat quarterback C.J. Brown of Seneca Valley High School are countered by a much-improved West Virginia defense that has forced six turnovers and allowed just 13.3 points per game.
"We haven't faced a passing attack like this yet," Holgorsen said. "Do we feel better about where we are defensively [this year]? Yes, absolutely. Do we have it all figured out? No. Maryland is going to bring some big challenges."
West Virginia beat Maryland, 31-21, a year ago and has taken each of the past seven meetings in this regional rivalry, a winning streak spanning the previous 10 years.
Stephen J. Nesbitt: firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-290-2183 and Twitter @stephenjnesbitt. First Published September 21, 2013 4:30 AM