KU's Weis: Tavon Austin a "Pain in the Butt" - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

KU's Weis: Tavon Austin a "Pain in the Butt"

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MORGANTOWN -

Charlie Weis woke his players up Monday morning for a practice session before the sun had time to catch up.

After a weekend off, with plenty of time to fill their stomachs with Thanksgiving meals, the first-year Kansas coach filled the Jayhawks' plates with 5:30 a.m. game prep for a season finale at West Virginia.

"I'm kind of glad with the way the schedule worked out that we didn't play on Thanksgiving weekend," Weis said of the team's final bye week before the offseason begins. "You only can get the guys up psychologically in a short time span so many times without them being flat. I think that we were set up to be kind of flat last week."

Kansas lost to Iowa State in its last outing by a final score of 51-23 as the team fell to a dismal 1-10 on the season. While WVU's defense ranks dead last nationally in points allowed, the Jayhawks are 106th, while scoring at a rate good for 115th to the Mountaineers' 14th-ranked output.

The program is looking for its first victory in the Big 12 since November of 2010 and the opportunity is Morgantown is essentially the team's bowl game.

Saturday's game is one last chance to take the field before KU sits at home during the holidays as the only team in the conference to fail to become bowl eligible.

"Over half of our practice was dedicated as if we were playing West Virginia last week, so I think these guys are pretty familiar with who they're playing against and I'm sure a bunch of them were sitting around on Friday watching that game on TV as well," Weis said.

His players have plenty to prepare for with a West Virginia team that is finally back in the win column after two games in which the offense moved the ball on the ground with more effectiveness than it had at just about any point in Dana Holgorsen's two-year tenure with the program.

"That one-two punch at running back, where now they're taking that No. 1 guy and taking him to where he's not just playing wide receiver, he's playing running back, too," Weis said of senior Tavon Austin. "So they've got the smash mouth guy [Shawne Alston] and that absolute burner [Austin], which really makes their offense very, very dynamic."

Weis gave due credit to senior quarterback Geno Smith and his impact in leading the Mountaineers offense, but during the weekly Big 12 teleconference, he was again asked to focus on Austin and what the all-purpose stud has accomplished throughout the season, most notably in the previous two games against Oklahoma and Iowa State.

"He is faster than most people on the field," Weis says flatly. "Just takes two plays from that game last week. Take the punt return and take the little pass in the flat on the left hand side where everyone has angles at him and he just outruns everyone. That's not coaching, now.

"I'm sure everyone would like to sit there and stand on the line and take credit for that, but that's just unusual talent and unusual speed and he's a very, very dynamic player who, whether they line him up in the backfield and give him the ball or whether they play him at receiver – no matter where he is, he is a pain in the butt that you always have to account for."

A week after Iowa State head coach Paul Rhoads claims he and his staff vomited upon watching Austin's film against the Sooners, it becomes Weis' challenge to keep his supper down.

Offensively, Kansas knows a thing or two about running the ball, but that knowledge has come more out of necessity than anything else.

As the season's starting quarterback, Dayne Crist, struggled early and backup Michael Cummings could do no better, the Jayhawks have all but abandoned the passing game in order to get a rusher like junior James Sims an opportunity to take over.

Sims has racked up the conference second-best rushing total with 956 yards, while sophomore Tony Peirson is not far behind with 730. Weis says due to the lack of balance in his team's attack, he's had to come up with a variety of looks to his run game in an effort to keep defensive coordinators guessing.

"I like to be a 50-50 play caller, but we were very inefficient in our passing game in all facets and the best players on our team are our running backs," said Weis. "Because the runners are pretty good, the offensive line run blocks pretty good, it's giving us a chance to hang in some games that maybe we wouldn't have been in if we weren't running the ball efficiently."

The matchup is favorable to a Mountaineers defense that ranks No. 40 against the run, while continuing to pull up the rear nationally as a pass defense.

Saturday will be the last chance to Weis' squad to do what it hasn't done since week one of the season and leave the field of play with a victory.

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