The Times West Virginian

WVU Sports

August 31, 2012

Bailey: Chance to make history

Feels he and Austin each can catch 100

MORGANTOWN — Before last season, West Virginia had produced only two receivers with 1,000-yard seasons — David Saunders with 1,043 yards in 1996 and Chris Henry with 1,006 yards in 2003.

Then last year, when Dana Holgorsen came in as coach, the Mountaineers had two players surpass 1,000 yards— Stedman Bailey at 1,279 and Tavon Austin with 1,186 yards to rank Nos. 1 and 2 all-time in yardage gained in a single season at WVU.

So what do you do for an encore?

Well, try this on for size. Until last year no WVU receiver had ever caught 100 passes in a single season. Or 90 passes. Or 80 passes.

The school record was shared by Saunders and Shawn Foreman, Foreman having set it at 77 receptions in 1997 and Saunders tying his record the following year.

That record, of course, was demolished in Holgorsen’s first year as coach as Austin gathered in 101 passes.

So what’s next?

How about TWO players catching 100 passes in the same season?

Never, you say?

Never say never.

“That’s possible,” Bailey said during this week’s interviews as the Mountaineers prepared for Saturday’s noon opening game against downstate rival Marshall at Mylan Puskar Stadium.

“This year, I believe it is possible,” Austin added.

Austin, of course, took a school record-tying 12 receptions in the Orange Bowl rout of Clemson, 70-33, to surpass 100 receptions while Bailey came up 28 catches short for the year.

Why do they think they both can catch 100 this year?

“The opportunity is here to do that,” Bailey said. “We know a lot more than we did a year ago.”

“Last year, we were new to the offense. Now we’re more comfortable in it,” Austin said.

In understanding why this will be difficult you have to understand those two players’ roles in the offense.

Austin often comes out of the backfield and takes short passes, sometimes even just glorified handoffs that are often big gainers. He is a prime target on short routes, the coaches trying to get him the ball in space where he can take advantage of his shiftiness and his speed.

Bailey, on the other hand, is the receiver who stretches the field with deep routes. He plays taller than his 5-11 and has huge hands that catch anything within reach, often making acrobatic and crucial receptions.

He also has a way of getting loose after catching the ball and turning 15-yard gains into 30, the result being the record-setting yardage a year ago.

As a deeper receiver, he is a tougher man to hit as it takes more time and he will often draw double teams. Austin gets the ball so quickly that they cannot double him and this year that could be even more of a problem as freshman slot receiver Jordan Thompson is almost a clone of Austin starting on the other side.

“Every time he’s on the field, they got to double him so I get a lot of single coverage,” Austin explained.

Bailey knows that if he manages to catch 28 more balls this season, it would mean a whole lot of yards.

“With 30 more, I don’t know what I would have ended with in yardage, but it would have been pretty big,” he said.

Why do they believe a second year in the offense can make a major difference?

  “We know a lot more about the offense, things like sight adjustments we can make. We have a lot of answers for now for the way they played us last year that we didn’t know in our first year of running the offense,” Bailey said.

“There’s a lot of freedom in the offense. The coaches just tell us to find the grass in the field. It may not be in the play call, but if we find grass it might work out.”

   There is one other reason Bailey might be able to push himself to 100 catches and that is he has worked diligently to improve his skills in the off-season.

“I feel like I had a pretty good year all around last year but I will try not to drop any balls this year and try to improve on each part of my game. I want my blocking to get stronger and I’ve been working on my cutting skills, trying to get more like Tavon,” he said.

Email Bob Hertzel at bhertzel@hotmail.com. Follow on Twitter @bhertzel.

1
Text Only
WVU Sports
  • Huggins signs junior college guard

    Coach Bob Huggins completed his 2014-15 West Virginia University recruiting class on Wednesday and deemed it a success after receiving a signed letter of intent from junior college guard Tarik Phillip.
    Phillip joins Jevon Carter of Maywood, Ill., and Daxter Miles of Baltimore’s Dunbar High and out of Notre Dame Prep in Massachusetts in the 2014-15 recruiting class.

    April 17, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: WVU gymnast hopes to stick her final landing

    The reaction, one suspects, was the same as most people who see either a picture of West Virginia University gymnast Hope Sloanhoffer or meet her for the first time in person — a quick double take, maybe even stumbling over the first few words of an introduction.

    April 17, 2014

  • FURFARI COLUMN: Comparing pay of coaches and professors

    Stringing together some odds and ends which may be of interest to you:
    • A beautiful lady came up to my table last Sunday at brunch in the Village of Heritage Point’s main dining room with a message.

    April 17, 2014

  • Bussie looks forward to WNBA

    On Tuesday, the weather turned cold, the wind blew and amongst the raindrops that fell a few snowflakes fluttered quietly to Earth.
    It was as if it was a celebration of Asya Bussie being drafted on Monday night by the Minnesota Lynx, champions of the WNBA, with the third selection of the second round, the 15th overall pick of the draft.

    April 16, 2014

  • WVU’s Harlee named Big 12 Scholar-Athlete

    The Big 12 Conference announced its Scholar-Athlete of the Year recipients for the 2014 winter sport season, and West Virginia University senior Jess Harlee earns the honor for women’s basketball.
    Harlee was selected as the award winner based on a vote of each respective sport’s head coaching group, with coaches not permitted to vote for their own student-athletes.

    April 16, 2014

  • Gyorko, Padres agree to extension

    Jedd Gyorko, who hasn’t hit much of anything with a .178 start on this season, hit the jackpot on Monday, signing a six-year contract extension with the San Diego Padres for $35 million with a one-year club option at $13 million.

    April 15, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN- Spring game showed defense has improved

    From Dana Holgorsen’s viewpoint, which was standing right behind the offense, West Virginia’s Gold-Blue Spring Game on Saturday was a rousing success for it showed very little of what the Mountaineers will be in this coming season, probably not even showcasing the man who will direct the offense in the quarterback position.

    April 15, 2014

  • WVU signs guard; Adrian arrested for DUI

    There was something good and something bad for West Virginia men’s basketball coach Bob Huggins this past weekend as Kansas junior college player Tarik Phillip committed to play for the Mountaineers but rising sophomore Nathan Adrian was charged with Under 21 DUI after he was stopped at 1:20 a.m. Sunday for an expired registration sticker.

    April 15, 2014

  • FURFARI COLUMN- Most plays good, some not so good in Gold-Blue scrimmage

    There appeared to be a fine mixture of plays, most good with some not so good, in last Saturday’s West Virginia University’s Gold-Blue football scrimmage.

    April 15, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN- Garrison still proving he can carry the ball

    The running back raves from the West Virginia coaching this spring have been directly mostly toward Wendell Smallwood, and rest assured he earned every one of them with his versatility, but it was a reborn running back who well may have taken the biggest jump up the depth chart.

    April 14, 2014

Featured Ads
WVU Sports Highlights
NDN Sports
House Ads
NCAA Breaking News
NCAA Photos