Tag:Tavon Austin
Posted on: September 4, 2011 10:17 pm
 

QUICK HITS: No. 24 West Virginia 34, Marshall 13

Posted by Chip Patterson

WEST VIRGINIA WON. It was an odd and awkward victory, but the Mountaineers overcame three different weather delays to finally collect the victory over the in-state rival Marshall 34-13. The game was finally called with 14:36 left in the fourth quarter after more than three hours of delays brought both teams in and out of the locker room several times. Geno Smith stole the show in head coach Dana Holgorsen's debut, completing 26 of 35 passes for 249 yards and 2 touchdowns in just over 3 quarters of action.

WHY WEST VIRGINIA WON: The Mountaineers defense, for the most part, frustrated the Thundering Herd and continued to put freshman quarterback Rakeem Cato in third and long situations. West Virginia's defense only allowed Marshall to convert on 3 of 11 third downs, repeatedly setting themselves up with opportunistic field position for Geno Smith.

WHEN WEST VIRGINIA WON: Tavon Austin's 100-yard kickoff return late in the third quarter erased all of the momentum gained by Marshall after forcing a turnover on downs. The Thundering Herd used the field position to get a field goal and cut the Mountaineer lead to 20-13 with 5:14 left in the third period. Austin's return touchdown occurred just before the first weather delay, and Marshall never was able to get momentum back.

WHAT WEST VIRGINIA WON: This game provided very little insight into West Virginia's new look on offense, and did little to establish dominance over their in-state rivals. Smith looks sharp, but the Mountaineer rushing attack struggled to find a rhythm and looked inefficient at best. The Mounaineers got a mark in the win column, and a list of areas to improve, but other than Geno Smith's performance there was little that stood out on Sunday.

WHAT MARSHALL LOST: The opportunity to knock off their rivals. The Thundering Herd struck first when Andre Booker returned a West Virginia punt 87 yards for a touchdown. That 7-0 lead would be Marshall's best moment on Sunday, as the defense gave Geno Smith too much time to operate and the Mountaineers jumped out to a 20-10 lead before halftime. There is something to be said for freshman quarterback Rakeem Cato, who completed 15 of 21 passes for 115 yards. The Miami native showed potential in limited action and could be a nice building block for the future.

THAT WAS CRAZY: Other than the three different weather delays and early finish? Trying to take build some momentum after scoring just before halftime, Marshall opted to attempt an onsides kick to start the second half. They failed, but it at least showed the Thundering Herd had no plans of quitting their attack on the Mountaineers.
Posted on: September 4, 2011 6:03 pm
Edited on: September 4, 2011 7:29 pm
 

West Virginia - Marshall suspended for lightning

Posted by Chip Patterson

For the fifth time in this opening weekend of college football, a game has been suspended due to inclement weather. With 4:59 remaining in the third quarter, game officials stopped West Virginia and Marshall after lightning was spotted less than six miles from the stadium.

The fans were instructed to leave the stadium and seek temporary shelter, while the teams returned to their locker room. According to regulations, 30 minutes must pass with no lightning spotted in a six-mile radius of the stadium. Once the teams have been cleared to resume play, there will reportedly be a 5-minute warm up period before re-starting the action.

The lightning report came directly after West Virginia dealt their own strike thanks to a 100-yard kickoff return touchdown from speedy wideout Tavon Austin. The Thundering Herd had just turned a 4th down stop into a field goal, cutting the Mountaineers lead to 20-13, before Austin answered with his highlight reel return.

Quarterback Geno Smith has been the most impressive aspect of West Virginia's highly-touted offense. The junior has competed 22 of 30 passes for 207 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He as spread the ball around to eight different receivers, often being forced to create an opportunity by extending the play with his feet. Marshall has stuffed the Mountaineers running game, holding all rushers to 30 yards on a combined 20 attempts.
Posted on: August 18, 2011 6:33 pm
Edited on: August 20, 2011 8:58 pm
 

PODCAST: Big East season preview

Posted by Chip Patterson

The Big East gets criticized often on the national level for being the one of the weaker BCS conferences, but with new coaches and high-octane offenses 2011 could be a bounce back year for the league. I join Adam Aizer to sort through the many story lines in the Big East and try to make sense of a league that has had 5 different teams win a share of the conference championship since 2005.

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If you are having trouble seeing the player, you can download the MP3 HERE

Posted on: August 17, 2011 2:30 pm
Edited on: August 17, 2011 2:42 pm
 

CBSSports.com Preseason All-Big East Team

Posted by Chip Patterson

As part of CBSSports.com's season preview, we offer this blogger's selections for the Preseason All-Big East Team.

Offense


QUARTERBACK

Zach Collaros, Sr., Cincinnati - Even with a questionable knee and even more questionable offensive line, Colarros led the Big East in in passing yards (2,902 yards) last season. The talented quarterback who first broke out as a backup to Tony Pike enters the season looking to bounce back from last year's dismal 4-8 record. The senior signal-caller is armed with a stable of skill position players (you will find many of them below on this team) and looking to return the Bearcats to the postseason after missing a bowl for the first time since 2005. He was a unanimous All-Big East first team selection a year ago and still remains atop this list until someone shows him up.

Also watch for: One person with plenty of potential to show him up is West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith. Smith has been a popular choice by some outlets for all-conference teams because of his unique skill set and how well it matches Dana Holgorsen's offensive system. Smith, who threw for 24 touchdowns and just 7 interceptions in 2010, will be the point guard of the Mountaineer attack - making quick decisions to get the ball in the hands of the playmakers. Pittsburgh's Tino Sunseri should also benefit from moving back into the shotgun with Todd Graham, and BJ Daniels is one to watch down at South Florida.

RUNNING BACK

Ray Graham, Jr., Pittsburgh - Under Todd Graham's watch, Tulsa had one of the most prolific offenses in football. The Golden Hurricanes ran 1006 offensive plays in 2010, ranking them seventh nationally. More than half of those (537) were rushing plays, which means you can expect Graham will get his fair share of touches. The high-octane system Pittsburgh plans to run is based on speed rather than a pass-first spread. Graham is just the type of strong and shifty back that fits this offense perfectly.

Isaiah Pead, Sr., Cincinnati - Pead rushed for 1,029 yards and six touchdowns in 2010, and is the conference's top returning rusher. Even though the Bearcats have some questions to answer on the offensive line, there are enough weapons on the field for Pead to get some space to operate. After being a part of back-to-back conference title teams, Pead will want to finish his career by bouncing back from 2010's 4-win season.

Also watch for: Louisville running back Victor Anderson broke out as a freshman in 2008 before being slowed by injuries the past two seasons. If he can repeat the types of performances that won him Big East Rookie of the Year, it would be a huge boost to a Cardinals team with questions on offense. Connecticut running back D.J. Shoemate is another one to watch, as he will try to step out from Jordan Todman's long shadow in Storrs.

WIDE RECEIVER

Tavon Austin, Jr., West Virginia - Austin's move to wide receiver is one that will benefit the talented playmaker in Dana Holgorsen's offensive scheme. He is a weapon that West Virginia plans to use in multiple ways, and will not be lacking in touches or targets in 2011. Spreading the field will give Austin several chances to take advantage of one-on-one coverage, and I imagine he will take advantage.

DJ Woods, Sr., Cincinnati - Woods won't be able to take advantage of lining up opposite 1,000 yard receiver Armon Binns anymore, but if JUCO transfer Kenbrell Thompkins pans out he will certainly get plenty of opportunities to at least match 2010's numbers (57 catches for 898 yards and 8 touchdowns).

Also watch for:Syracuse returns Van Chew, Marcus Sales, and Alec Lemon, but they all need to show more consistency before laying claim to all-conference honors. Rutgers wideout Mohamed Sanu has also gotten a lot of attention, and could be a threat if Chas Dodd is given enough time to throw.

OFFENSIVE LINE

C Moe Petrus, Sr., Connecticut - Petrus helped pave the way for All-Big East running back Jordan Todman a year ago, and now his role is more important than ever. With a new running back and new quarterback, the senior lineman much anchor the unit to give the Huskies a chance at recapturing the momentum that led to a Fiesta Bowl bid in 2010.

OG Justin Pugh, Jr., Syracuse - Pugh started all 13 games for the Orange last season, and is one of four returning starters along the offensive line. A second team All-Big East selection, Pugh is expected to repeat his strong performance protecting Ryan Nassib.

OG Chaz Hine, Sr., South Florida - With only two returning starters on the offensive line, Hine's experience (25 starts) makes him an the most valuable piece of the Bulls offensive line.

OT Don Barclay, Sr., West Virginia - With 27 career starts, the 305-pound left tackle has been a leader along the offensive line in the transition under Dana Holgorsen. Holgorsen has been concerned with the depth along the offensive line, but repeatedly compliments Barclay's bounce back from spring injuries.

OT Lucas Nix, Sr., Pittsburgh - While new head coach Todd Graham continues to hold competition along the Panthers' offensive line, it seems that one of the only positions set in stone is Nix at right tackle.

Also watch for: Connecticut's All-Big East first team tackle Mike Ryan could easily have a spot on this list, as could West Virginia center Joe Madsen.

TIGHT END

Ryan Griffin, Jr., Connecticut - The Huskies did not throw the ball much in 2010, but Griffin was the third leading receiver with 31 receptions for 245 yards and a touchdown. Tight end is not a particularly strong position in this conference with all the odd schemes, but whichever unproven quarterback is under center for Connecticut will likely rely on Griffin to get out of tight spots.

Also watch for:Syracuse tight end Nick Provo has been getting some praise heading into the season, and I'm interested to see how Pittsburgh H-back Hubie Graham gets used in the new Panthers offense..

Defense


DEFENSIVE LINE

DE Bruce Irvin, Sr., West Virginia - Irvin was a monster pass rusher in 2010, finishing second in the nation with 14.0 sacks on the season - in a reserve role. Now the talented end is in the starting lineup and should create havoc for offensive lines, particularly playing opposite Julian Miller.

DE Brandon Lindsey, Sr., Pittsburgh - Lindsey has also proven himself as a dangerous threat getting into offensive backfields. After picking up 10 sacks and 7.5 tackles for loss a season ago, defensive coordinator Keith Patterson says they will use Lindsey in some 3-4 looks as a "Panther linebacker." The flexibility of the down linebacker will allow the senior to get loose and try to use his instincts to make big stops.

DT Chas Alecxhi, Sr., Pittsburgh - Replacing Big East Defensive Player of the Year Jabaal Sheard is no easy task, but his 2010 teammate Alecxhi is ready to try and become the fourth straight Panther to be named to the same honor.

DT Kendall Reyes, Sr., Connecticut - Reyes is the anchor in the middle for one of the better defensive lines in the conference. He was an All-Big East first team selection a year ago, totaling 7.5 tackles for loss charging up the middle.

Also watch for:Reyes' Connecticut teammate Jesse Joseph and West Virginia's Julian Miller could easily pull in these same honors. Cincinnati's Derek Wolfe is one below the radar name to keep an eye on.

LINEBACKERS

Sio Moore, Jr., Connecticut - Moore got his first chance in the starting lineup in 2010 and made the most of it, finishing fifth in the Big East with 110 tackles. He is the only returning starter of the group, but should get plenty of playmaking opportunities behind a solid defensive line.

JK Schaeffer, Sr., Cincinnati - After finishing his second straight season with at least 100 tackles, Schaeffer was named to the All-Big East second team in 2010. Unfortunately the personal success was overlooked by a Bearcats defense that ranked near the bottom of the conference in many categories. Schaeffer has been outspoken in regards to the unit's improvement, and will likely be making a statement for the team on the field.

DeDe Lattimore, Soph., South Florida - Lattimore finished second on the team in tackles as a freshman, earning him some attention on the national level. The Bulls have some holes to fill on the defensive line, but Lattimore and fellow linebacker Sam Barrington have Skip Holtz feeling good about the back seven.

Also watch for: Syracuse linebacker Marquis Spruill has a tall order moving to middle linebacker and replacing Derrell Smith and Doug Hogue. If he is able to lead the new unit to a successful season, he will certainly be deserving of some postseason honors.

DEFENSIVE BACKS

CB Keith Tandy, Sr., West Virginia - In addition to being an All-Big East first team selection in 2010, Tandy led the conference in interceptions and recorded 11 pass break ups. With many starters missing from last year's dominating defense, Tandy will be one of the few "sure things" at the start of the season.

CB Blidi Wreh-Wilson, Jr., Connecticut - In addition to being a great playmaker and the team's third third leading returning tackler, Wreh-Wilson will benefit from playing alongside three other returning starters in the secondary. With few blatant weaknesses, it will be hard to avoid the cornerback and he'll get plenty of chances to have an impact on the field.

S Hakeem Smith, Soph., Louisville - Louisville is faced with the challenge of replacing two talented cornerbacks in the secondary. Luckily, there is a proven underclassman ready to step up in Smith. He was the 2010 Big East Defensive Rookie of the Year and finished 10th in the conference in tackles. He ball-hawking safety will be a key component in maintaining a defense that ranked among the best in the nation a year ago.

S Jarred Holley, Jr., Pittsburgh - Holley finished one pick behind Tandy in the Big East last year, and was named to the All-Big East second team. With the Panthers' front seven applying pressure on the quarterback, it will be Holley's job to make them pay after mental mistakes.

Also watch for: Syracuse safety Phillip Thomas will be a crucial part of the Orange's back seven once he recovers from a broken jaw and South Florida cornerback Quinton Washington is the third leading tackler on the Bulls' defense.

SPECIAL TEAMS

K Ross Krautman, Soph., Syracuse

P Cole Wagner, Soph., Connecticut

KR/PR Lindsey Lamar, Jr., South Florida

Also watch for: Connecticut's Dave Teggart and South Florida's Maikon Bonani both had impressive seasons in 2010 and should be just as consistent this year. But no one in the conference compared to Krautman's 18 for 19 (94.7%, a Big East single-season record) performance, including a 48 yard field goal in a 13-10 win at Rutgers.

As always, let us know what you the think about the selections in the comment section below. Also be sure to click on over to the Conference Preview for more coverage on the Big East
Posted on: December 28, 2010 4:10 pm
 

CBS Bowl Bonanza: Champs Sports Bowl

Posted by Chip Patterson

The Basics: West Virginia faces NC State, 6:30 PM Tuesday

Why You Should Watch: Both West Virginia and NC State fell just a game shy of an opportunity to play for a BCS bid, and they will each be looking to turn that disappointment around and finish the season strong.  The game is also loaded with exciting playmakers - Geno Smith, Tavon Austin, Russell Wilson, Nate Irving - to name a few. Both offenses have had high scoring performances this season, though West Virginia's defense ranks among the best in the NCAA in scoring defense.  While Wilson still has one year left of eligibility, many believe that Tuesday will the be his final game in a Wolfpack football uniform.  He has already signed a contract to play with the Colorado Rockies, who he has already bypassed one year for his junior season.  Wilson has been part of Tom O'Brien's success at NC State, and I expect he will be looking to cap his career off with another performance.  West Virginia also has an interesting storyline with the awkward announcement that Bill Stewart will be phased out before the 2012 season.  Basically a sitting duck until Dana Holgorsen takes over, Stewart will fire up the Mountaineers for their seventh ACC bowl opponent since 2002.    
 
Keys to victory for West Virginia:  While Geno Smith has had an impressive second half of the season, the Mountaineers are living on the play of their defense.  West Virginia's defense, particularly in the second half, simply refused to give up the big play against their opponents.  Russell Wilson has a tendancy to wear a defense down with lots of pitch and catch, so West Virginia cannot let him get in a rhythm.  If NC State keeps this game close, I have a feeling it's going to be a shootout.  If the Mountaineers can shut down Wilson, Geno Smith should find it easy to catch the NC State secondary napping for a big play or two.

Keys to victory for NC State: Match West Virginia's intensity on defense.  While not one of the superior defensive units in the ACC, NC State's linebackers are the cream of the crop.  Led by Nate Irving, they will have an opportunity to create big plays to slow West Virginia's momentum.  When NC State is blitzing the quarterback, they mask their shortcomings in the secondary.  If they allow West Virginia's offense to keep them on their heels, the Pack will struggle mightily to play keep-up. 

The Champs Sports Bowl is like: The third place match in international competition.  Both teams fell just a game short of their conference championship hopes, and now this is their consolation.  Much of this game will be decided by who decides to really "bring it."  If both teams do, it could be a thrilling game in Orlando. 
Posted on: September 18, 2010 12:35 pm
Edited on: September 18, 2010 12:41 pm
 

Maryland is so, so bad

Posted by Adam Jacobi

[UPDATE, 12:40: Maryland has recovered a West Virginia fumble at the Maryland 20. On Maryland's first play, Robinson almost threw a pick-six. Instead, it turns into a 3-and-out. Maryland is so, so bad.] 

Hey, guess what? That Maryland at West Virginia game that kicked off at the top of the hour? Yeah, it's already over.

West Virginia leads 14-0 after seven minutes of gameplay, but that doesn't accurately describe how poor Maryland has looked in this game. The Mountaineers used a 50-yard scamper by Noel Devine to get into scoring position on their opening drive and got into the end zone a few snaps later.

Undaunted, Maryland responded by committing four penalties on their opening "drive," and it could have been worse; on 3rd and 28 from the 2-yard line (yeah), Terps QB Jamarr Robinson escaped a sack in the end zone only after his tackle, uh, tackled the rush end; the hold went uncalled. Maryland punted on the next snap.

West Virginia shredded Maryland's defense again on the next drive, and the second touchdown came on a pass to Tavon Austin where no Terps were within 20 yards of Austin. That is not an exaggeration. All in all, Geno Smith is 4-4 for 58 yards and two scores (both to Austin, and West Virginia averaged over 10 yards a play on their first two drives.

Oh, and Maryland just punted again. This is brutal. Do not watch this game unless you are a West Virginia fan and/or unimaginably cruel.

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com