Austin's Awesome

West Virginia running back … I mean inside receiver … Tavon Austin is apparently made of billions and billions of lightning bolts.

If not, he's obviously superhuman.

The Mountaineers made its starting inside receiver – a 5-foot-9, 171-pound guy for the record – into its workhorse. He opened the game at running back, and stayed there for much of the contest in what was a surprise to many.

It wouldn't have been surprising, say, four years ago, as Austin was a record-setting running back in high school in Maryland. He set records for career points (790), touchdowns (123), total offensive yards (9,258) and rushing yards (7,962).

He proved, despite not playing running back much over the last three seasons, that he still has it in him.

Yea, he proved he's an all-American and a worthy first-round NFL draft pick on Saturday against Oklahoma, too.

The Mountaineers failed to defeat Oklahoma 50-49, but it wasn't because of Austin, who carried a 5-4 team on his back for much of the night.

He finished with 344 rushing yards on 21 carries and added 82 receiving yards on four catches. He had two touchdowns.

Austin had more receiving and rushing yards tonight than the entire WVU offense averaged per game in 2010.

He broke a Big 12 Conference record for all-purpose yards.

"We haven't been able to run the ball, so we had to do something. He goes for 344 yards, so we probably should have done it four years ago," said head coach Dana Holgorsen. "We should've done it earlier, but hindsight is 20-20."

"We are watching Houdini," the FOX crew proclaimed after a 56-yard run late in the third quarter. The crew was right.

In the first half, when Austin didn't get a touch on the first three plays, the drive ended in a punt. Despite a one-time Heisman Trophy leading quarterback like Geno Smith and a sensational go-to, deep-threat wide receiver like Stedman Bailey, the Mountaineers were Austin and Co.

It's odd that it took West Virginia nine games and four straight losses to lead them to this change of offensive philosophy. Instead of leaning on the arm of Smith, they did so on the talent of Austin.

"We'll move him around and give him different matchups," Austin said. "Obviously it depends on how the game goes, and we had a package we could do it with. If you give it to him, and it works like it did, we could do it in different packages, too."

It was probably too little, too late.

Despite the number of touches Austin receives in a game, it's obviously been too little. He hasn't had more than 16 rushing attempts in a season before this year. Austin had more rushing attempts tonight than he has had in any season at WVU.

In fact, before this game, he had only combined to touch the ball via reception or rush 16 times in a contest. That changed vs. Oklahoma, and it caught a very talented Sooners team off-guard.

Austin has had such an illustrious career at WVU. His stats back up his bio. In fact, his bio is one word short of 1,300 on He's deserving of every single one of those letters.

Where will West Virginia be without Austin next year and down the road? There doesn't seem to be another playmaker with the speed or complexity of Austin – or a player with anywhere near the same potential he had as a younger guy – on the roster.

Sure, West Virginia has Bailey back and a few potential threats like Andrew Buie and Dustin Garrison, but they are nowhere near as talented as Austin. He's a talent WVU fans may never see again.

WVU will be in trouble next year without Austin, there's no doubt about that. Of course, they might be in trouble even if he was around. But, it's going to be a lot harder to win without him around.

This was Austin's breakout game – an opportunity for him to cement himself as an all-American and as one of the all-time greats in WVU history.

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