Stats & Info: Tavon Austin

Top things to know: NFL Draft depth

April, 19, 2013
With the NFL Draft looming, here’s a look at the top things to know related to depth at notable positions.

QB class lacking a megastar
There have been four quarterbacks taken in the first round of the NFL Draft each of the last two seasons. This year, Geno Smith is the top-rated quarterback in the class, but he has the lowest Scouts Inc. grade (91) of any top quarterback in the last nine seasons.

QB class has lots of shotgun/pistol experience
The NFL is trending toward spread tendencies, but the average NFL quarterback still attempted less than two-thirds of his passes after taking a snap from shotgun last season.

Four of the top quarterbacks in this draft class -- Landry Jones, Geno Smith, Ryan Nassib, and EJ Manuel -- attempted at least 88 percent of their pass attempts last season from either a shotgun or pistol formation.

Lacy leads a light-RB class
Eddie Lacy is the only running back projected to go in the first round by both Mel Kiper and Todd McShay. This would mark only the second time since 1985 that only one running back was drafted in the first round. It also happened in 2011.

In fact, since 2005, every NFL Draft but the 2011 one has had a running back drafted within the top 12 picks.

Lacy is the top running back prospect of the 2013 class according to Scouts Inc., but he was the beneficiary of one of the top offensive lines in football. Lacy gained 65 percent of his yards before initial contact and averaged 4.1 yards before contact per rush.

Receivers with lots of different skills available
An average of three wide receivers have been drafted in the first round of the NFL Draft over the last five seasons. Mel Kiper’s most recent mock draft has four. Todd McShay’s latest one has two.

Among the most notable leaders among wide receivers, Tavon Austin led AQ-school receivers with 947 yards after the catch, Terrance Williams led FBS receivers with 27 receptions on passes thrown 20 yards or longer, and DeAndre Hopkins and Stedman Bailey led FBS with 10 touchdown receptions on throws 20 yards or longer.

Teams looking for multi-purpose receivers should know that Austin and Cordarrelle Patterson were the only players in FBS with at least 300 rushing yards, 600 receiving yards and 500 return yards in 2012.

Tight ends that can go long
Tyler Eifert and Zach Ertz highlight a tight end class with the ability to stretch the field vertically.

Eifert and Ertz combined for 45 receptions on passes thrown 15 yards or longer over the last two seasons, including five deep touchdowns.

A rich defensive draft
According to Scouts Inc., defensive players make up 19 of the top 32 overall prospects. Todd McShay’s latest mock draft has 12 defensive front seven players taken in the first round of the draft, one behind the 2011 and 1974 NFL drafts for the most in the common draft era.

A look at some of the collegiate leaders in some notable areas:

LSU defensive end Sam Montgomery had three sacks against a double team, most among the 35 defensive FBS prospects rated 80 or higher.

Among the top-10 defensive end prospects as rated by Scouts, Inc., Florida State's Bjoern Werner had the most sacks on a standard pass rush (12) and Georgia's Jarvis Jones had the most from a blitz (7).

Purdue's Kawann Short led all FBS defensive tackle prospects rated 70 or higher with seven sacks and 13 run stuffs last season. A “run stuff” is a tackle on a rushing play that ends up in negative or zero yardage.

Stats to know: West Virginia vs Syracuse

December, 28, 2012
Tim Heitman/US PresswireGeno Smith will try to close out his season with a Pinstripe-Bowl win.
Five stats to know on the New Era Pinstripe Bowl between the West Virginia Mountaineers and Syracuse Orange at Yankee Stadium on Saturday afternoon (ESPN, 3:15 ET)

1. Expect a busy scoreboard in this one. West Virginia is seventh nationally in scoring and has gone over 40 points six times this season. The Mountaineers needed to in order to balance out a poor defense that allowed over 38 points per game and ranks 114th in FBS.

2. West Virginia has allowed 63 completions of 20 yards or longer this season, the most in a season in the last four years. Syracuse led the Big East with 49 completions of 20-plus yards and have at least one such completion in every game this season.

3. West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith is 0-2 in his career as a starter against Syracuse. In both starts, Smith completed less than 60 percent of his passes and threw at least two interceptions.

Added defensive pressure was a big reason why Smith struggled. He completed 45 percent of his passes and had three interceptions when the Orange sent five or more pass rushers.

That matches Smith’s interception total against the blitz in his 36 other games as a starter.

4. Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey lead all receiving duos with 35 receiving touchdowns, 216 receptions and 2,760 receiving yards this season.

They have been targeted on 55 percent of West Virginia’s pass attempts and have gained over two-thirds of the Mountaineers’ receiving yards.

Austin has 909 yards after the catch this season, most among players from AQ schools.

5. Syracuse started 2-4 in its first six games, committing 15 turnovers and only forcing five. In its last six games, the Orange committed only five turnovers and forced 14.

Formulas for stopping a Heisman candidate

October, 23, 2012
Two of the top Heisman Trophy candidates, West Virginia’s Geno Smith and Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel, were shut down in their own buildings on Saturday. How did it happen?

Kansas State dropped in coverage and limited big plays
Kansas State did not do anything tricky on defense in its 55-14 win over West Virginia. The Wildcats played coverage and tackled. They had a season-low three missed tackles and dropped at least seven defenders in coverage on 42 of Smith’s 43 dropbacks. The extra coverage limited Smith’s deep options and provided less space for West Virginia’s shifty receivers.

Entering the game, West Virginia was one of the top big-play passing offenses in FBS, averaging 7.8 completions of 15 yards or longer per game. Kansas State did not allow one 15-yard completion, the first time since October 2008 that West Virginia failed to complete one such pass.

Kansas State did not allow Smith to beat the Wildcats deep. Smith was 0-for-5 on passes that traveled at least 15 yards in the air. Smith had completed one pass of this distance in 24 straight games before Saturday.

In his past two games, both losses, Smith has completed just 8.7 percent of his throws 15 yards or longer, with 12 of his 21 incompletions being off-target (overthrown, underthrown or wide). In his first five games of the season, Smith had just eight off-target 15-yard throws.

Without a viable deep game, Smith looked short to his receivers and hoped that one of the nation’s top teams at running after the catch could break some long plays.

West Virginia was averaging 203.8 yards after the catch per game, including 85.5 yards after the catch on screen passes. But against the Wildcats, West Virginia was held to a season-low 117 yards after the catch and 65 yards after the catch on eight screen passes.

Entering the game, Tavon Austin led receivers from AQ schools with 491 yards after the catch. Against Kansas State, Austin gained only 29 yards after the catch, his fewest in a game since the start of 2011.

Manziel Limited Outside of the Pocket
Against LSU, Manziel was held to a season-low 27 yards rushing, including just 25 yards on scrambles. Manziel entered the game leading the SEC in rushing yards (475), touchdowns (7) and first downs (20) when scrambling.

Manziel attempted as many scrambles as normal, but failed to break any long runs. His longest scramble against LSU gained 14 yards. In his first six games, Manziel had 12 15-yard scrambles, including six touchdowns.

With LSU taking away the running lanes, Manziel attempted a career-high 56 passes -- including 49 inside of the pocket, or 16 more than he had ever attempted in the pocket.

Inside of the pocket against LSU, Manziel completed 55.1 percent of his passes and averaged a season-low 5 yards per attempt. Even worse, Manziel threw two interceptions from inside the pocket for the first time this season. Entering the game, Manziel was completing 69.3 percent of his passes inside of the pocket with just two interceptions in 150 attempts.

WVU offense puts up Texas-sized numbers

October, 7, 2012
AP Photo/Eric GayAndrew Buie ran for more than 200 yards against Texas.
Once again, the West Virginia Mountaineers offense was nearly unstoppable.

Geno Smith’s numbers are staggering: After a 268-yard, four-touchdown performance, he has 24 passing touchdowns, 1,996 passing yards, 204 attempts, and not a single interception this season.

Smith (204 attempts) is closing in on Trent Dilfer’s FBS single-season record of 271 consecutive pass attempts without an interception. Dating back to last season, Smith has 258 consecutive pass attempts without an interception, 121 attempts shy of Russell Wilson’s FBS record set in 2008-09.

Smith is the first quarterback to throw four passing touchdowns and no interceptions against Texas since Chad Henne did so for Michigan in 2005.

And how about the WVU receiving core? Tavon Austin had 10 receptions for 102 yards and a touchdown. He’s had at least 10 receptions and a receiving touchdown in six straight games dating back to last season. No FBS player has done that since at least 2004.

Fellow wide receiver Stedman Bailey had three receiving touchdowns. He has 13 this season, easily the most in FBS. Bailey has eight in the last two games alone. If Bailey remains on his current pace, he’ll surpass the FBS record of 27 receiving touchdowns by Troy Edwards in 1998.

But it wasn’t just the Mountaineers’ passing game. Running back Andrew Buie ran for 207 yards, the most rushing yards by a Mountaineer in a conference game since Pat White had 220 rushing yards and Steve Slaton had 215 against Pittsburgh in 2006.

Texas snapped a 57-game win streak when winning the turnover battle, its first loss with fewer turnovers since 2002 against Oklahoma.

The 45 points are the most Texas has ever scored in a loss in program history.

But perhaps the loss shouldn’t be so surprising for Texas. The Longhorns have now lost eight straight games against AP Top 25 teams.

Records crash in Geno Smith masterpiece

September, 29, 2012

AP Photo/Christopher Jackson
Geno Smith was the star attraction in the fireworks show in Morgantown Saturday.
If defenses were being put to the test in Saturday's Big 12 clash of high-flying offenses at Mountaineer Field at Milan Puskar Stadium, everyone failed. The offenses combined for 19 touchdowns, the most ever in a game involving FBS teams.

But no one in Morgantown came out of the 70-63 West Virginia Mountaineers win looking better than Geno Smith in what could have been the first Heisman Trophy-defining performance of the season.

The senior quarterback set school single-game records for completions (45), pass yards (656), total offense (687) and passing touchdowns (8) in a virtuoso performance. He threw for more touchdowns than incompletions (6).

Going back to the 2012 Orange Bowl, Smith has 26 touchdowns and zero interceptions and hasn't thrown for fewer than 323 yards in a game.

Compared to last year's Heisman winner, Robert Griffin III, through four games, Smith has 345 more pass yards with a better completion percentage and more touchdowns. And his team was still perfect while Griffin III's Baylor team was 3-1. Smith actually has the most touchdown passes in his team's first four games of any season since the turn of the century with 20.

West Virginia's Stedman Bailey turned 13 grabs into a school-record 303 yards and he didn't even have the most receiving yards in the game. Baylor's Terrance Williams also set school records with 17 receptions and 314 yards. Bailey also had five touchdown catches, tied for the second-most in a game by an FBS player since 2000 (Oklahoma State’s Rashaun Woods had seven in 2003). No Mountaineer player has ever had more receptions in a game than Bailey's teammate Tavon Austin, who had 215 yards himself.

We can't confirm when the last time opposing teams each had a 300-yard wide receiver. But the NCAA does note that a pair of Tulsa players, Rick Eber (322) and Harry Wood (318), did so in the same game against Idaho State on October 7, 1967.

For a program that took some beatings in its history versus powerhouses like Texas, Oklahoma and Nebraska, Baylor's defense broke some dubious school records today. It gave up 807 total yards, 656 of them through the air.

Baylor elected to send three pass rushers or fewer on 32 of Geno Smith’s 56 dropbacks. He completed 27 of 31 passes for 413 yards and four touchdowns when Baylor did that. He was under duress on just three plays and was not sacked when Baylor dropped eight into coverage.

It's not common that a team can score 63 points in a loss. The Bears' point total matches the FBS record for the most points scored in regulation by a losing team (Rice versus San Jose State in 2004; Toledo versus Western Michigan in 2011).

The sunny side of that stat is that Baylor's quarterback had to have a pretty memorable day as well. And Nick Florence did, setting school records with 581 pass yards and 575 total yards en route to five scoring tosses. But it's too bad he couldn't help out on defense.

Smith and Florence combined to throw for 1,237 yards, 16 yards shy of the NCAA single-game record by opposing players.

• West Virginia: 807 total yards.
• Most total offense by a player: Geno Smith, 687 yards
• Most Pass TDs by a player: Geno Smith, 8 (tied B.J. Symons' record)
• Most receiving yards by a player: Terrance Williams, 314
• Combined passing TDs: 13 (tied for most in a game among FBS opponents -- San Diego State/New Mexico State, 1969 & Hawaii/BYU, 2001)

Robert Mayer/US PresswireThe West Virginia offense did most of the heavy lifting in a record-setting Orange Bowl on Wednesday night.
Less than a week after the Baylor Bears and Washington Huskies rewrote the bowl record book in the Alamo Bowl, the new volume will need to go back to the printer after the West Virginia Mountaineers' run through the Orange Bowl.

West Virginia broke six team records and four individual records on the way to a 70-33 win over the Clemson Tigers. Five of those records had been set or tied during last week’s Alamo Bowl, and the number of records set rises when compared only with other BCS bowl games.

Mountaineers quarterback Geno Smith tied three bowl records. He threw for six touchdown passes to tie Chuck Long, who did the same in the 1984 Freedom Bowl for the Iowa Hawkeyes. His other two records, touchdowns responsible for and points responsible for, matched Keith Price’s Alamo Bowl records for the Washington Huskies. All three established new marks for BCS bowl games.

Also on the individual honor roll, Tavon Austin set an Orange Bowl record and tied a record for any bowl game with four touchdown receptions.

Austin and the West Virginia receivers did most of their damage after the catch. Smith completed nearly 80 percent of his throws of less than 10 yards, and all six passing touchdowns came on short tosses.

As a team, West Virginia now holds most of the point-related records in bowl games. The Mountaineers scored 35 points in the second quarter, 49 points in the first half and 70 points in the game. All three set new standards, as did the 69 points the teams combined for in the first half. West Virginia’s 10 touchdowns broke the record for most in a game, previously set by the Nebraska Cornhuskers in the 2000 Alamo Bowl for the most in a bowl.

The two teams combined for 103 points. While that was well short of the record for a bowl game, it easily set the record for a BCS bowl. In a trend that is likely to reverse in the BCS Championship Game, three of the seven highest scoring BCS bowl games have taken place this season.

With Clemson's loss, the ACC falls to 2-13 all-time in BCS bowl games, the worst record among Automatic-Qualifying leagues.

As we look back on the Orange Bowl and start to look forward to the BCS Championship Game between the LSU Tigers and Alabama Crimson Tide, here are some things that are unlikely to be repeated in New Orleans on Monday.

• West Virginia scored 10 touchdowns against Clemson… Alabama (12) and LSU (14) each barely allowed that many touchdowns in the entire season.

• Geno Smith threw for six touchdowns… For the Alabama (6) and LSU (7) defenses, that’s a full season’s worth.

• Clemson allowed six offensive touchdowns in the first half… Neither Alabama (5) nor LSU (6) allowed more in every first half this season combined.

• Clemson allowed 49 first-half points against West Virginia… Alabama has allowed just 54 points in the first half this season.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Thanks to RJLARIAT (comments below) for pointing out the error in this post, which has been corrected. West Virginia's 10 touchdowns against Clemson did indeed set a record for bowl games, breaking the mark of 9 set by Nebraska against Northwestern in the 2000 Alamo Bowl.