The 2011 West Virginia football season was one for the record books. It was a season that will be talked about for a very long time among Mountaineer fans. One dimension of this team that rarely gets national recognition (at least historically) is the WVU passing game which has to include its receivers.
In this article I will discuss the WVU receiving corps, more specifically Stedman Bailey and Tavon Austin. Both receivers broke the WVU single season record for receiving yards in 2011 that was previously held by David Saunders who in 1996 caught passes for 1,043 yards.
West Virginia University has historically and recently been a school that was known for its running backs and rushing game more so than its passing and receivers. Enter Dana Holgorsen.
Holgorsen came to WVU as an offensive hire by Oliver Luck. He was intended to be the offensive coordinator and head coach in waiting behind Bill Stewart last season but was quickly thrown into the drivers seat as the head coach. All things considered, he did quite well.
Holgorsen changed as little as possible concerning the football team with exception to his offense from the time Stewart vacated his position to the conclusion of the Orange Bowl. Citing a basic leadership rule of assuming command that involves not making major changes immediately after you are in control of it.
Who will be better in 2012?
However the offense has not changed, and should be seasoned and prepared more so than any other facet of this team. WVU receivers will enter the upcoming year with more confidence than the Mountaineers have ever experienced.
Geno Smith will be a senior in 2012 leading all other WVU quarterbacks in passing yards in a single season and will be only 697 yards shy of becoming the all time WVU passing leader who is currently Marc Bulger.
Smith will have a good corps of receivers to pass to this coming season. Smith, Bailey and even receiver Ivan Mcartney played with each other while in high school at Miramar, FL. They are familiar and comfortable with each other. Stedman, who will be a junior in the upcoming year, has demonstrated his ability to make big plays. His late game catches against Pittsburgh and South Florida kept WVU in those games and put the Mountaineers in the position to win.
Tavon Austin is no doubt the more publicly visible and popular receiver/player on this team. If you were to look around the web for a Tavon Austin No. 1 jersey you will be able to find it with little hardship. But if you search for a Stedman Bailey No. 3 jersey you would see that it is a little more difficult. Anyone know where we can get a Stedman Bailey No. 3 jersey?
Austin, who led the team in receptions last year with 101 catches, is only 32 away from tying Jock Sanders for the school career receptions record. He was an All-American last year and is fourth on the career receiving yards list and only 484 yards behind current school record holder David Saunders.
Austin in this fan's opinion could easily have been the Orange Bowl MVP! I know right now you are probably thinking "Why not mention that he lead the country in all purpose yards last season?" I'm not bringing it up (other than I did right there) because we are talking about mostly receiving here.
As exciting and record breaking as 2011 was, you can see that there are easily more records to be broken in 2012. The offense is expected to be experienced and hitting on all cylinders for most games. And now that the defensive staff is being completed we will be able to see what defense will complement this offense that rolled up 70 on Clemson.