Tavon Austin

West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith, should he slip, would be an intriguing fit in Minnesota. 

Photo Credit: Elisabeth Dillon | Daily Texan Staff

My 2013 mock draft, version 1.0. Like I had anything better to do. 

1. Kansas City - Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M - Why bet against group-think?

2. Jacksonville - Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan - The Jags haven't spent a first-round pick on an offensive lineman in five years. If you're going to give Chad Henne and Blaine Gabbert continued chances, might as well protect them while giving Maurice Jones-Drew some room to run.

3. Oakland - Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida - An interior building block as a new regime tries to get off the ground in Oakland. 

4. Philadelphia - Dion Jordan, OLB, Oregon - Reunite Jordan with college college Chip Kelly. If the Aldon Smith comparisons pan out, then this is a home run, even though the 6-foot-6 underproduced in college. Jordan fits perfectly in the NFC East. He can disrupt the quarterback (Eli Manning, Tony Romo) and he is quick enough to chase them down (Robert Griffin III).

5. Detroit - Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma - Probably a stretch, but with offensive tackles flying off the board, Detroit can't pass up a chance to fortify the line. 

6. Cleveland - Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama - A rush-end like Ziggy Ansah would be nice, but the Browns just spent big bucks on Paul Kruger. Here's Warmack, perhaps the best overall player in the draft — and best guard in quite some time. He should feel right at home opening up running lanes for old college teammate, Trent Richardson. 

7. Arizona - D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama - Same situation as Detroit. Probably a stretch, but the Cardinals have to scoop up the last of the elite offensive tackles. Doesn't matter who's quarterback (and I think Geno Smith would be a reach here), the offensive line has to get incrementally better if Arizona is to compete in the NFC West. 

8. Buffalo - Ezekiel Ansah, DE, BYU - The offseason signing of Mario Williams did little to help Buffalo get after the quarterback; the Bills finished with a middle-of-the-road 36 sacks. Add the freakish Ansah, who’d play outside lienbacker in the Bills’ 3-4 scheme, and you’ve got the makings of a dynamic front-seven. With two games per year against Tom Brady, Buffalo, which signed OLB Manny Lawson in the offseason, can afford to get greedy with pass-rushers.

9. New York Jets - Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia - How do you satiate an angry fanbase? Draft a slick, explosive receiver — that’s how. With questions at quarterback, taking Austin ensures that whoever lines up under center will have something to work with.

10. Tennessee Titans - Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama - The best defensive back in the draft is slipping because of injury concerns, but Milliner is a nice fit for a team that prides itself in its ability to defend the pass.

11. San Diego Chargers - Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah - The Chargers used a second-round pick on a defensive tackle last season and a first-rounder there in 2011, so this isn't a "need" pick, but rather one based on value. 

12. Miami Dolphins - Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame - Offense is the priority here, and without reaching to take a tackle to replace Jake Long, the Dolphins get Ryan Tannehill the next-best thing: a versatile weapon in the passing game.

13. New York Jets - Barkevious Mingo, OLB, LSU - Just the guy the Jets wanted to get at No. 9. How Mingo's career pans out will be analyzed for years, as this is the pick New York got from Tamp Bay in the Revis deal. 

14. Carolina - Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri - Richardson is a mountain of a defensive tackle, with potential to get a lot better. 

15. New Orleans - Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas - The second-worst passing defense would benefit from the addition of the draft's best safety. Vaccaro would come in and make an impact right away. His ability to cover outside and slot receivers, as well as step up and make plays in the running game, are highly valued. 

16. St. Louis - Alec Ogletree, ILB, Georgia - Ogeltree is the opposite of Dion Jordan: poor measurables, but great college results. Also, his character concerns aren't likely to sway Rams coach Jeff Fisher, who has a history of brushing those issues aside. 

17. Pittsburgh - Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington - The once-rugged AFC North is opening up, what with Joe Flacco and Andy Dalton emerging as super-productive quarterbacks. The Steelers' LCB, Keenan Lewis, started 16 games last season but did not record an interception.

18. Dallas - Jonathan Cooper, OG, North Carolina - The Cowboys already locked up their left tackle for the next 10 years with the Tyron Smith selection two years ago. Time to get him a long-term pal on the interior. Don't be surprised if Jerry Jones trades up — even if it's to get Cooper, who some have going in the first 10 selections. 

19. New York Giants - Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State - This has been a cursed position for the Giants in recent years. Aaron Ross is back on the team after failing to meet big expectations in his first go-round. Terrell Thomas can't stay healthy, while results have been mixed for Prince Amukamara in two seasons.

20. Chicago - Manti Te’o, LB, Notre Dame - The perfect replacement for Brian Urlacher in the middle of the Bears' defense. A slow 40-time isn't a biggie. 

21. Cincinnati - Eddie Lacy, RB, Alabama - Somebody's going to take a running back, and why not the Bengals? BenJarvus Green-Ellis finished with over 1,000 yards last year in his Bengals debut, but he only picked up around 68 per game. Lacy provides an upgrade. It's a two-back league, anyway. 

22. St. Louis - Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee - Again, Fisher isn't afraid to pull the trigger on a player with character red-flags. Patterson isn't Tavon Austin, who's likely the No. 1 option in St. Louis, but he's still very dynamic (16.9 yards per reception, 12.3 yards per carry in one year at Tennessee).  

23. Minnesota - Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia - Yes, the Vikings spent a first-rounder two years ago on Christian Ponder, but Smith here is too good to pass up. Why waste the prime of Adrian Peterson’s and Greg Jennings’s careers with Ponder, who has completed only 59 percent of his passes last season in his career? 

24. Indianapolis - Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia - An edge-rusher to replace Dwight Freeney, and a major steal at No. 24. Jones drops because of chronic spinal stenosis, which didn't seem to bother him too much at Georgia (12.5 sacks last season).

25. Minnesota - Sylvester Williams, DT, North Carolina - Minnesota took a luxury pick at No. 23, but now it's time to upgrade at a position of immediate need. 

26. Green Bay - Margus Hunt, DE, SMU - A physical specimen at 6-foot-8, Hunt could be the second coming of Jason Taylor. With his size and speed (4.6 40-yard dash), Hunt can fill a variety of holes for Green Bay — a five-technique in the 3-4 defense, or a stand-up pass-rusher opposite Clay Matthews. 

27. Houston - Justin Hunter, WR, Tennessee - Like everybody else, I think the Texans have to take a wideout with the No. 27 pick. With Austin and Patterson off the board, the 6-foot-4 Hunter is the next-best candidate. He's got a 39-inch vertical and ran a 4.4 40-yard dash at the combine. He's not just some workout wonder, though. Hunter had 1,083 yards receiving and nine touchdowns last season.

28. Denver - D.J. Hayden, CB, Houston - The Broncos badly need a cornerback to pair with Champ Bailey. You saw the AFC Championship game, right? 

29. New England - Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State - Werner had an ACC-best 13 sacks last season, while New England was 15th in the NFL with 37. An outside receiver could work here, but this fits a need for the Patriots. 

30. Atlanta - Kyle Long, OL, Oregon - Quickly-rising up the draft boards, Long would be a nice right tackle for the Falcons, who signed left tackle Sam Baker to a six-year deal this offseason. Atlanta really doesn't have many weaknesses. 

31. San Francisco - Jonathan Cyprien, S, FIU - The 49ers need to replace departed safety Dashon Goldson. Cyprien or Florida's Matt Elam are the likely candidates for the job. 

32. Baltimore - Kevin Minter, ILB, LSU - Ray Lewis and Dannell Ellerbe have both moved on. It's time for the Ravens to find a new heart of the defense. Minter was an All-SEC player in 2012. 

See Daily Texan Sports Editor Christian Corona's mock draft here.

West Virginia wide receiver Tavon Austin catches a touchdown pass during a game against Maryland in Morgantown, W. Va. Sept. 22. West Virginia won 31-21.

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

This weekend’s game will be a tale of two offenses. With spurts of poor defensive production out of both West Virginia and Texas this season, this Saturday is likely to feature a stereotypical Big 12 shootout. Both Texas and West Virginia are tied for first in the Big 12 with one win apiece. Both teams also are undefeated with four wins on the season. The game against Texas will mark West Virginia’s first true road test of the season.

“They are good on all three sides of the ball,” head coach Dana Holgorsen said of Texas. “On all three sides of the ball, it is going to be a chore. When you couple that with being on the road for the first time this year, we obviously have our work cut out for us.”
The Mountaineers roll into Austin with one of the league’s top-ranked offenses, thanks in whole to the efforts of senior quarterback Geno Smith. Against Baylor, Smith put up Heisman quality numbers which included nearly 700 passing yards and an 88.2 percent completion rate. Last weekend’s contest was not an anomaly; Smith has completed 83.4 percent of his passes on the season and has yet to turn the ball over to the opposition.

By comparison, Texas quarterback David Ash has been producing healthy numbers as well. Ash has a season completion percentage of 78 percent with 10 touchdowns and one interception.

Smith’s favorite targets include junior Stedman Bailey and senior Tavon Austin, who have each caught for over 550 yards this season. Both were a huge factor against Baylor last weekend.

The Mountaineers’ impressive showing was against a Baylor defense that is ranked dead-last in the conference in most defensive categories including pass defense, scoring defense and total defense. Despite this defensive ineptitude, West Virginia has still earned double-digit victories in their previous three games.
West Virginia is a even a little shakier on defense than the Bears. The Mountaineer defense allowed 63 points against Baylor and continually blew coverage and failed to stop any member of the Baylor offense. By comparison, the Texas defense allowed the top ranked Oklahoma State offense just 36 points. Plus, the Texas defense is ranked highly in pass defense, which aligns well with West Virginia who ranks first in the nation when passing the ball.
“We have to get them better,” Holgorsen said of his defensive unit. “The front seven played well ... they were disruptive at times when they were rushing the passer. We need a little bit more out of the defensive line when it comes to pressuring the quarterback. We gave up too many big plays on third down.”
The WVU defense is ranked second to last in all defensive categories. At Texas, despite a hoard of missed tackles and the inability to stop big plays, the defense has turned in better stats than West Virginia’s. The Longhorns also have had better play when backed up in the red zone. The game should come down to offense and which team can overcome the opposition’s defense more effectively.
“We play hard every week and go out there and compete. No matter who we are playing,” junior offensive lineman Pat Eger said.

Printed on Friday, October 5, 2012 as: Mountaineers set focus on tightening up defense

It’s not every day a quarterback passes for almost half a mile, guiding his offense to more than 807 total yards. However, if the feat were going to be accomplished, West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen’s air-it-out offense would be the likely gateway. Last Saturday, Geno Smith, West Virginia quarterback and Heisman frontrunner, burned Baylor for 656 passing yards, and 8 touchdowns, en route to a 70-63 victory. 

Even though the Big 12 is known for spread-style offenses, Holgorsen was well aware of his team’s feat last weekend.

“Not every Big 12 game is like this,” Holgorsen said following the game.

And he would know best after stints at Oklahoma State and Texas Tech as offensive coordinator.

With West Virginia heading to Austin Saturday, let’s take a look at how Texas has fared against Holgorsen-coached offenses.

In 2005 Holgorsen’s first season with offensive coordinator duties at Texas Tech, the No. 10 Red Raiders visited Austin only to be dealt a 52-17 loss. Tech quarterback Cody

Hodges was coming off a 643-yard performance the week before but only managed 369 yards against the Longhorns’ defense. Overall the Red Raiders eked out 468 total yards, averaging 5.8 yards per pass.

The next year, Texas headed to Lubbock and struggled with a 21-point deficit in the first half. While Texas eventually rallied back to win the game 35-31, the game was deemed more of an escape. The Red Raiders, behind sophomore quarterback Graham Harrell, put up 518 yards of offense, 519 through the air and -1 via the ground. Harrell threw all three of his touchdowns in the first half as the Texas defense gave up 10 plays of 16 yards or longer all before the half.

“Everything he did was right. The right throw, the right receiver, the right route,” former cornerback Aaron Ross said. It goes to show how disciplined a Holgorsen-coached quarterback is.

In 2007 the Red Raiders came back to Austin and, in Holgorsen fashion, tallied 476 total yards, 466 of them through the air. Harrell sought revenge from the previous year throwing five touchdowns but ultimately came up short, as Tech lost 59-43 behind the Longhorns’ 551 total yards of offense.

Texas had a two-year breather from Holgorsen when the coach headed to Houston for the 2008 and 2009 seasons. However, the offensive mastermind re-emerged at Oklahoma State in 2010 as the offensive coordinator. The No. 10 Cowboys visited the 40 Acres and dropped 532 yards of offense on the Longhorns’ defense en route to a 33-16 victory.

Behind junior quarterback Brandon Weeden’s 409 passing yards, the Cowboys snapped a 12-year losing streak to the Longhorns.

Holgorsen-coached offenses average 499 yards against Texas, 441 of those yards through the air. However, the Longhorns have always held their own, averaging 459 yards through those four games, and have an overall 4-1 record against the offensive guru.

While the Longhorns have found success against Holgorsen-mentored teams, the Mountaineers squad visiting Austin Saturday is arguably his best ever. Behind Smith, the school’s all-time passing yardage, touchdown passes and completions leader, West Virginia is averaging 442 yards through the air, with help from arguably the nation’s two best receivers, Stedman Bailey and Tavon Austin, who have 17 touchdowns and 1,195 yards between each of them.

If the Longhorns’ defense isn’t ready for a track meet Saturday, Holgorsen and company will fly out of Austin with another victory.

Printed on Wednesday, October 3, 2012 as: Holgorsen's offenses test Texas