CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Approaching the end of his stellar career at West Virginia, Tavon Austin continues to find ways to impress his teammates.
Now he has a new fan in Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads.
After returning from a 51-23 win at Kansas, Rhoads started looking at the tape of West Virginia’s 50-49 home loss to Oklahoma and quickly realized what Austin was up to.
“Soon after that, we vomited,” Rhoads joked.
Running all over a Sooners defense that was set up to stop the pass made Oklahoma sick, too.
Used at the running back position for the first time this season, Austin amassed a school-record 344 rushing yards and Big 12 record 572 all-purpose yards Saturday.
With a shorter week to prepare before West Virginia (5-5, 2-5 Big 12) travels to play the Cyclones (6-5, 3-5) play on Friday, Rhoads is scrambling to come up with ways to slow down Austin.
“It’s a pain in the rear end, especially with a six-day work week,” Rhoads said. “Seven days are hard enough to prepare for the offenses that you face in this league, and then they start doing things different and you’ve got the unknown. You don’t want to chase ghosts, but to a certain extent, you have to, especially when that player is as talented as he is.”
The only thing to stop Austin against Oklahoma was time. West Virginia had the ball near midfield when the clock ran out. Austin came up 6 yards short of the Bowl Subdivision record set in 2000 by Utah State’s Emmett White against New Mexico State.
“You don’t do that against the University of Oklahoma and their personnel,” Rhoads said. “You just don’t do that. He’s a very, very special player and now you’ve got to spend the time to make sure you’re ready for it. You give your kids at least a chance to try to tackle him.”
Scoring on runs of 4 and 74 yards, Austin became the first player in school history to have a touchdown receiving, rushing and on kick and punt returns in the same season.
The senior also had 82 yards receiving and 142 yards on kickoff returns against the Sooners.