"I just think when it comes down to it now, the defense needs a strong person to play man-to-man on both of us, or they're going to have to play zone the whole game," Austin said. "But the offense is based on what the defense does.
"If they play zone, we've got something for that. If they play man, we've got something for that."
The spring began with expectations Austin might get the ball the most and McCartney might benefit the most, though in his case, much of that was on him. He was a U.S. Army All-American in 2009 and first-team All-State at the 6A level, the top one in Florida high schools.
He was partnered with his high school quarterback, Geno Smith, last season, but caught just one pass for 4 yards. That didn't come until the final game of the regular season.
"Ivan always had good routes in him," Austin said. "He never had a chance to show up until now. Now's his time to show up and he's doing what he has to do."
Again and again this spring, McCartney has found ways to get open and score touchdowns, either on the run or on passes thrown for him to go up and grab.
"There's more than being in the end zone," he said. "There are a lot of things to work on. Blocking, body language, attitude."
Austin has been as steady as expected and that duo, which McCartney said possesses "a whole lot of firepower," stayed intact as Holgorsen made the first noticeable personnel shift.
Outside receiver Brad Starks had shoulder surgery last week that will keep him out for up to 12 weeks. Stedman Bailey was moved from slot receiver, where he was behind Austin and now-former tight end Tyler Urban, and bumped outside and ahead of J.D. Woods, who has yet to display the level of consistency needed to earn Holgorsen's approval.
Holgorsen said he'd identified the team's four best receivers with McCartney and Austin taking the lead.
"Ivan, he stretches the field and runs good routes and he's really good in the red zone because he has great body control," veteran WVU cornerback Keith Tandy said. "He uses his hands to get the cornerback off of him and he can go over top of you to catch the ball on your head, even if you have perfect coverage.
"Tavon is just great in the open field. If he gets in the open field, you've got to hope your teammates are going to be there to help you out."
Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at mi...@dailymail.com or 304-319-1142. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/wvu.