After leaving the deteriorating Big East, West Virginia has a much tougher road ahead of them in 2012 playing in the Big 12. With five games against potential Top 25 teams on the schedule, the Mountaineers will have to bring their best every week if they want to contend for the Big 12 title.
Luckily for Dana Holgorsen and the fans in Morgantown, All-American candidate Tavon Austin is back for his senior season and is ready to show the nation his playmaking abilities. A lightning quick and elusive wide out in the mold of Percy Harvin, the 5'9" Austin caught 101 passes last year for 1,186 yards and eight touchdowns.
Those numbers could easily increase this year playing against Big 12 defenses that were notoriously bad last year. In 2011 not a single Big 12 team had a defense that ranked in the top 40 in the nation in passing defense. This bodes well for Austin who led the entire country in all-purpose yardage last year with 2,574 total yards, including two kickoff returns for touchdowns.
What the Big 12 does have is a much greater fanbase than the Big East, which will give the electrifying Austin the attention he deserves. Just one look at this highlight reel and you can see why he is often compared to the Pro-Bowler Harvin.
Austin didn't just feast on the less talented Big East teams for his monster numbers last year either. In fact his two best games were against the two best teams West Virginia faced in 2011. In a September matchup against the Honey Badger and LSU's stout defense, he caught 11 passes for a season-high 187 yards. He followed that up with a four touchdown performance in last year's Orange Bowl against Clemson, as the Mountaineers put up 70 points on the Tigers.
The scoring should only get easier with the conference move, and nobody knows how to tear apart Big 12 defenses better than head coach Dana Holgorsen. During his two years as offensive coordinator at Texas Tech, the Red Raiders offense was ranked in the top 10 in yards gained each year. Then in 2010, as Oklahoma State's offensive coordinator, Holgorsen's offense ranked in the top 5 nationally in both passing offense and scoring offense while breaking nearly every school record for passing.
Austin's production will also be aided by the return of first-team All-Big East quarterback Geno Smith. Smith is a composed and accurate passer who doesn't panic in the pocket and finds ways to get his star receiver the ball quickly.
After leading the nation in all-purpose yards and garnering first-team All-Big East honors in 2011, Tavon Austin is ready to take his legacy to the next level. With a move to the Big 12 where speedy wide outs have dominated in recent years, Austin is sure to be one of the nation's next big playmakers and possibly even a sleeper Heisman candidate.