Holgorsen wants Austin to pump up the volume
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - West Virginia football Coach Dana Holgorsen has effectively introduced receiver Tavon Austin into several parts of his game plan and the junior from Baltimore, is No. 4 nationally with 202 all-purpose yards per game.
Holgorsen would now like to introduce Austin to Peter for the purpose of improving punt returns.
"Sometimes the return guy has to wiggle through some people just to find it," Holgorsen said. "You get to a point where you make the decision to say 'Peter, Peter' and get it or just get out of the way."
"Peter" would be the verbal cue Austin is supposed to yell to let teammates know the ball is near them and they need to make sure not to touch it and create a turnover. Austin let it happen three times and paid each time against LSU. He's only returned eight of the opposition's 28 punts this season, but one was for 64 yards.
The soft-spoken Austin says he yells "Peter," but it doesn't really make a difference.
"You don't hear anything on the field," he said. "That's why you have to wave it off. You definitely can't hear a guy yelling on the field, so I try to wave my arms so everyone can see me."
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THE NO. 16 Mountaineers (4-1) play host to Connecticut (2-3) at noon Saturday at Mountaineer Field (Big East Network telecast). WVU is being outscored 36-34 in the first quarter this season and was outscored 7-3 by Marshall, 3-0 by Norfolk State and 13-0 by LSU. The Mountaineers led Bowling Green 17-10 after the first quarter, but were down 10-3 early.
"We're talking about it," Holgorsen said. "We talked about it against Maryland. Maryland, we started really fast. You can't start any faster than we did and that was a noon game. We'll probably take the same approach that we did heading into the Maryland game. Hopefully we'll have the same results."
The Mountaineers actually trailed the Terrapins 3-0 at Byrd Stadium in the only other noon start of the season, but rallied and led 14-3 entering the second quarter and then 24-3 in the second quarter.
WVU has had two 3:30 p.m. starts, a 1 p.m. start and an 8:12 p.m. start and the variation has caused a variety of pre-game routines.
"We can't get them up at 8 a.m. and feed them and have them in meetings and then practice at noon during the week because of school," Holgorsen said. "You just talk about it and focus on it and have them buy into it."
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HUSKIES COACH Paul Pasqualoni actually has the most coaching wins in Big East history from the 2-3 UConn start and when he coached Syracuse from 1991-2004 (109 victories), but he spent the past six seasons in the NFL with the Dallas Cowboys and Miami Dolphins.
"We probably have enough film to look at," Holgorsen said. "Five games is quite a bit, especially if the coordinator was truly the coordinator and in charge of what they were doing. They had some opponents do some things we can look at and be OK with it. You tend not to go back more than a couple years anyhow."
UConn's offensive coordinator is George DeLeone, who was the Temple offensive coordinator in 2006-07 and the tight end coach with the Dolphins the past three years. Holgorsen said NFL film isn't useful because there are too many variables, but did say the Mountaineers had help preparing for the UConn defense. Coordinator George Brown had the same job at Maryland the past two seasons.
"We did go back to last year and looked at Maryland to double-check a few things," Holgorsen said.
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HOLGORSEN HAS has demoted punter and kickoff specialist Corey Smith - at least temporarily.
Michael Molinari, a walk-on redshirt freshman from Parkersburg South, will punt first Saturday. Molinari is also WVU's holder. Place-kicker Tyler Bitancurt will kick off first. Holgorsen said Smith will be available should Molinari, who has never kicked in a game, or Bitancurt struggle.
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COUNT PASQUALONI among the many alarmed by WVU's proven ability to pass and sudden ability to run. In back-to-back games, quarterback Geno Smith passed for a school-record 462 yards and running back Dustin Garrison ran for 291 yards, the best in the FBS this season and the second-best total in WVU history.
The Huskies are No. 8 nationally against the run (75.2 yards per game), but No. 80 against the pass (240.4). Western Michigan quarterback Alex Carder was 37-for-51 for 479 yards and five touchdowns in last week's 38-31 victory.
"When you're able to run the ball like that, it makes it so much harder really to defend your offense," Pasqualoni said. "You go into games really trying to stop the run got and one thing we did do well last week was we did stop the run and that gives you a little better chance to play the pass.
"But last week, even though we were ale to control the run OK, we weren't able to keep our coverage right enough. West Virginia's ability to run the ball, West Virginia's ability to throw the ball just creates a lot of space. You have to spread out across the field to cover them and that makes it really hard. It's just a huge challenge."
Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-319-1142. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/wvu.