The Times West Virginian

WVU Sports

September 22, 2011

WVU receivers will provide test for LSU

MORGANTOWN — Alexandre Dumas gave us “The Three Musketeers.”

Dana Holgorsen has gone the French author one step further and is giving us “The Four Mountaineers.”

Like the fictional trio, today’s all-too-real quartet of West Virginia University receivers lives by the motto, “All for one, one for all!”

Dumas named his Musketeers Athos, Aramis and Porthos, while the Mountaineers go by the names of Tavon Austin, Stedman Bailey, Ivan McCartney and Devon Brown.

The four of them, working in conjunction with quarterback Geno Smith, have swashbuckled their way through three opponents but now take on the No. 2 team in America in the Bayou Tigers of LSU, a stingy defensive group of superior athletes.

The challenge for the LSU defense will be unlike any it has seen, to be sure, facing a group of four receivers who gained 100 receiving yards individually over the past two games. Think about that for a moment, how the passes have to be distributed, how four individuals have to be capable of making big plays, how you really can’t find a way to do very much double teaming.

They are talented and eager, as the sophomore McCartney let on.

“We’re ready to come and show everyone what we’re made of because we’re being doubted so much,” he said. “We’re ready to go and prove what we have.”

And what, he was asked, do you have?

“We’ll show you on Saturday,” he promised with what could only be described as a winning smile.

The truth is it all begins with Austin in the slot, for he is certainly the most dangerous of the receivers, the most likely one to take a quick little pass all the way.

And, it comes to light, he is as tough as he is quick, something he proved last week when he played despite having surgery on his right pinky early in the week, a two-inch pin having been placed in there with a couple of screws.

He played with the hand wrapped and caught 11 balls, second most in WVU history, good for 122 yards.

“Tavon is a very tough guy,” Bailey said. “For a guy to go out after having surgery and still catch 11 balls and play his game without anyone noticing anything wrong with him, I tip my hat to him. He’s very tough.”

Austin downplayed his courage.

“I had surgery. It was broken, but I’m good now. There are a couple of screws in there, but I’m a fast healer,” he said. “I can tolerate a lot of pain.”

If he could catch 11 balls with one good hand, how many might he have caught if both were perfect?

“I caught everything that was thrown at me. If I had X more passes thrown to me, I guess I’d have had X more catches,” he said, not really joking.

He also can inflict a lot on the pride of a cornerback or safety. And linebacker? Forget it; you will not cover Tavon Austin out of the slot with a linebacker.

But Austin in only one of the options. Indeed, there is a subculture within the group, sort of the three musketeers in lower case, for Bailey, McCartney and quarterback Smith were high school teammates under former Mountaineer linebacker Damon Cogdell at Miramar High in Florida.

Smith is extremely close with Bailey, a classmate of his, McCartney being a year behind.

“Stedman is like a brother. I take care of him; he takes care of me,” Smith said.

Sometimes when players get to college, they fall into different groups, move away from each other. Not these three.

“We haven’t gone our separate ways,” Smith said. “We’re still bonded, close. We hang out.

“We do it because our parents would want us to do that, and Coach Cogdell as well.”

And McCartney said nothing has changed with Smith, either.

“He’s the same Geno from high school,” he said. “It’s crazy. I never thought we’d be playing on the same team again. I feel great about it. We stay with a tight bond. Ever since we were in high school, we always had a tight family, a tight team.”

If there is a difference, they have all grown in their ability to perform under the creative eye of Holgorsen, who also added Brown as a fifth-year senior transfer from Wake Forest. Brown surpassed 100 yards against Norfolk State in the season’s second game and plays in the slot opposite Austin.

“Having that kind of talent definitely helps each one of us out, knowing a defense can’t just key on one specific person. That’s what we need in an offense like this. We throw the ball around a lot,” Bailey said.

And perhaps the most frightening thing is that they haven’t come near peaking yet, having spent so little time in the system.

“There’s a lot more things we can do on offense and put up even bigger numbers,” Bailey said. “I wouldn’t say we’re still getting a feel for things, but if we can go four quarters playing smoothly and doing our part, playing relaxed, we can be really dangerous.”

Their position coach, Shannon Dawson, knows how much work they all put in to get where they are.

“You have to understand, all through the spring and all through camp these kids have been repping and repping and repping. If you take kids who are talented and stress repetition that much, they are going to get better and better,” he said.

Facing the LSU defense is a challenge unlike any other they have had this year and probably will be the toughest they face in the entire season.

“Obviously, these guys are faster than the guys we played against. They’ll eat up more ground. In turn, we have to play faster,” Dawson said. “There will be less space than we’re used to, but the bottom line is you have to be fired up with the chance to play. I told our guys, ‘If they’re the best defense in America, who else would you want to play? Let’s see how good you are.’”

“The receivers know where they are going. The corners don’t, but they have great corners. They are physical, they press you up, they’re great corners. We accept that challenge and we want to challenge those guys,” Austin said.

Email Bob Hertzel at Follow on Twitter @bhertzel.

Text Only
WVU Sports
  • 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

  • WVU baseball drops seventh straight game

    One’s athletic skills are tested on a daily basis but every so often other aspects of an athlete’s makeup are tested, often far more important aspects in the game of life.

    April 14, 2014

  • Gold-Blue Game answers few questions at quarterback

    Dana Holgorsen finds himself in a quarterback quandary.
    He’s looking to have one quarterback and has five of them as spring practice ends, and nothing about the spring session has done anything to straighten out the situation.

    April 13, 2014

  • Moore ‘back at home’ under center

    There are a couple of ways to look at what Logan Moore did this spring after being moved back to quarterback and given a chance to compete for what is a wide open job, as wide open at the end of the spring as it was coming in.
    The first is to say that he didn’t wow Dana Holgorsen to the point that he’s willing to say he’s the leader going into summer drills, but that would be shortsighted considering from where Moore came.

    April 13, 2014

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