West Virginia standout Austin will keep getting plenty of touches
By John Harris
Published: Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2012, 10:36 p.m.
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads felt sick after West Virginia senior Tavon Austin rushed for a school-record 344 yards and two touchdowns against Oklahoma.
“We found out at the end of our game (a 51-23 win over Kansas),” said Rhoads, whose team hosts WVU at 3:30 p.m. Friday. “We started looking at the score first and the stats when we got back and put the tape on and saw how he was gaining all those yards. Then we (threw up).”
Austin's record-setting performance in the Mountaineers' 50-49 loss to Oklahoma sent shock waves throughout college football.
Not only was it the second-best rushing performance in school history, Austin also produced the most all-purpose yards in the NCAA this season with 572.
“He (already) has 100 catches. Now he rushes (for) over 300 yards against one of the best defenses — especially against the run,” Kansas coach Charlie Weis said. “Throw in the fact that he returns punts and kickoffs, I don't think No. 1 (Austin) is going to be my favorite player on the day we play.”
Kansas faces Austin and the Mountaineers (5-5, 2-5 Big 12), who have lost five in a row, on Dec. 1 at Milan Puskar Stadium.
Austin's performance against Oklahoma — he also caught four passes for 82 yards and totaled 146 yards in kick returns — led to speculation that coach Dana Holgorsen will continue to feature the Baltimore native at running back.
“I have said from Day One, especially this year, that he is the most explosive player with the ball in his hands that I have ever seen,” Holgorsen said. “He makes a whole bunch of people miss and he runs real fast with the ball in his hands.”
Austin carried the ball a career-high 21 times against Oklahoma. He rushed 10 times for 264 yards in the second half featuring runs of 74, 56, 54 and 47 yards.
“The only person accounting for me was the safety one-on-one and I just had to beat him,” Austin said. “Either he would make the play or I would make the play. It caught them off guard.”
With the element of surprise gone, Austin may not be featured as prominently against Iowa State.
“Our job as coaches is to get him the ball as many ways as we can,” Holgorsen said. “He is a guy that you look for in matchups and you put him in position to exploit those matchups. How much we do it is going to be week to week.”
Holgorsen said the 5-foot-9, 171-pound Austin will also continue to play receiver, his natural college position.
“We can probably do some more things with him, but if Tavon was an every-down running back and could carry the ball 40 times a game, he would have been doing that for the last four games,” Holgorsen said.
WVU's career receiving leader, Austin doesn't want to be a full-time back when he reaches the NFL.
“I don't think I would last in the NFL as a running back,” he said. “If I do get that chance, then I'd like to go in the backfield a couple times. But I wouldn't change anything. I'd stay a receiver.”
John Harris is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.