The Times West Virginian

Bob Herzel

June 19, 2013

HERTZEL COLUMN- Bailey, Austin turning heads in St. Louis

MORGANTOWN — This will not surprise you if you’ve been in this neck of the woods the past three years, but it sure got those good folks in St. Louis fired up.

Seems they are beginning to realize the special talents St. Louis Rams first-round draft pick Tavon Austin showed Mountaineer fans as he caught passes, ran reverses and, most of all, ran back kicks.

A week or so ago, and ESPN’s Mike Sando swears this is the way it went down, Austin grabbed a punt on the right sideline and broke into the clear.

All that stood between him and the goal line was punter Johnny Hekker, a real mismatch considering linebackers have troubles tackling Austin in the open field.

Austin put on a shake, then a back and was gone, leaving Hekker so thoroughly embarrassed at his dismal effort that he fell to the ground, clutching at his hamstring as if he had pulled it in an effort to get some sympathy from some unsympathetic but highly amused teammates.

“Come on, that is hilarious,” Rams cornerback Cortland Finnegan said later. “(Austin) is the real deal, man.”

oooooo

Austin and his WVU teammate Stedman Bailey, drafted in the third round, have become a hot ticket duo in St. Louis, each creating a tremendous impression.

Early on, Torry Holt, the Rams’ great receiver who Bailey reached out to for guidance even before the draft, expressed his views on what these two can do.

Now Holt’s partner in the Rams’ “Greatest Show on Turf” Isaac Bruce has put his stamp of approval on what he’s seen.

“I had to go to the highlight reel,” Bruce said when asked about the two. “Austin, he’s electrifying. I mean, you look at this guy, he can stop on a dime and leave you two nickels. He can get vertical and then run away from you. That’s a rarity in the league.”

And Bailey?

“Initially what I saw was his route running ability. He has the potential to be special. I wouldn’t be surprised to see his early success in this league.”

That’s a huge compliment coming from one of the best pure route runners in the NFL when he played.

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Bob Herzel
  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Big 12 provides plenty of optimism

    This past week the Big 12 held its annual media gathering in Dallas and served up a heaping portion of optimism for the 2014 season that is now upon us, West Virginia University opening its preseason practices on Thursday.
    This is a time of year when no one has lost a game, not even Charlie Weis at Kansas, and it’s a time of year when opinions are more plentiful than tattoos in an NFL locker room.

    July 27, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: WVU needs White to follow in former receivers’ footsteps

    A year ago Clint Trickett took a lot of grief as the once potent West Virginia offense came unraveled, but there is more that than meets the eye.
    The criticism was not unfounded, of course, although behind each incomplete pass there was the pain Trickett was suffering through to throw it, his rotator cuff in need of surgery.

    July 26, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: O’Toole joins long list of eccentric WVU kickers, punters

    The star of the Big 12’s annual football media day wasn’t a star at all.
    He intrigued the media far more than Bob Stoops, the coach of preseason favorite Oklahoma, and more than Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty, the preseason player of the year.

    July 25, 2014

  • WVU, N.C. State to meet in football

    Following a trend of creating non-conference games against regional opponents, West Virginia University has reached agreement with North Carolina State to play a home-and-home football series in 2018 and 2019.
    The Mountaineers are scheduled to play N.C. State in Raleigh on Sept. 15, 2018, and then play host to the Wolfpack on Sept. 14, 2019.

    July 24, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: ‘Cheating pays’ remark should draw attention

    When Bob Bowlsby, the outspoken commissioner of the Big 12, presented his opening-day picture of the future of college sports in Dallas for the annual media day gathering, his bleak comments were not unexpected.

    July 24, 2014

  • Holgorsen’s program hits turning point

    You can almost sense, as you watch West Virginia University football coach Dana Holgorsen sit before the gathered Big 12 media contingent answering questions in the Omni Hotel in Arlington, Texas, that he senses his program has reached a turning point.

    July 23, 2014

  • Big 12 Media Days Foo_time(1).jpg Trickett’s play key factor for Mountaineers’ success

     In the end, it comes down to the quarterback.
    Always has with Dana Holgorsen, always will.
    Quarterback is the offense with the West Virginia University coach. When he does well, the team wins – almost always.
    When he does poorly, the team doesn’t stand much of a chance.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Saban, family happy at Alabama

    Alabama football coach Nick Saban, whose team opens the season against West Virginia in Atlanta on Aug. 30, denied receiving or turning down this offseason an offer of $100 million to coach Texas, indicating he planned to finish his career as coach of the Crimson Tide.

    July 18, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: ‘Quarterback child prodigy’ comes to WVU amidst very high expectations

    Has West Virginia football coach Dana Holgorsen finally put the arrow he needs in his quiver with the commitment received Wednesday from high school quarterback David Sills, who is a rather extraordinary story and may also just be a rather extraordinary quarterback?

    July 18, 2014

  • WVU kicker Molinari ‘All-American boy’

    West Virginia kicker Mike Molinari may not be an All-American but he is an All-American boy.
    He was honored for that on Wednesday when the Allstate Insurance Company and the American Football Coaches Association announced the West Virginia redshirt senior kicker/punter Michael Molinari is a nominee for the Allstate AFCA Good Works Team.

    July 16, 2014

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