Whatever the methods, Austin and Bailey have certainly responded. Austin smashed the school record for catches in a season with 86 and became only the fourth 1,000-yard receiver (1,063) in school history.
Bailey, meanwhile, was the third 1,000-yard receiver, getting there a few games before Austin and gaining a school-record 1,197 yards on 67 catches. Those two now rank 1-2 in season receiving yards.
So why all the harsh critiques, not only from Dawson, but Holgorsen as well?
"Well, I look at it more of as a unit. And I think as a unit we have improving to do, especially in throwing the ball down the field and just as a whole unit and the whole offensive perspective of it,'' Dawson said. "But those guys, yeah, they had a great year. I know what you're talking about [in referencing his criticisms] and I know a couple of those weeks they had really good games.
"It's not like I'm a psychic or anything, but I remember distinctly before one game they had a great week, and I was trying to keep them grounded or whatever and we ended up getting beat. Do you remember that week? I remember that week.''
Well, actually it happened twice. In a win at Maryland, Austin, Bailey and Ivan McCartney all went over 100 yards receiving and the next week came the loss to No. 1 LSU, although both Austin and Bailey each had 100 yards in that one, too.
But later in the season Bailey had 178 yards, McCartney 131 and Austin 74 in a rout of Connecticut, then after an off week WVU was ripped by Syracuse.
"The bottom line is you've got to forget about the game before. You've got to forget about the play before,'' Dawson said. "I've always had the motto of play the next play, regardless of whether it's a great play or a bad play. You've got to have short-term memory. And that's the one thing, all that praise and everything, I mean, I tell them I care about them and tell them they had a great game all the time.
"But the bottom line is they have to do a good job of just living the next play and playing in the present.''
Austin has taken that to heart, and with good reason. He's seen what basically this same group of coaches have accomplished. So who is he to argue if he isn't the object of weekly adoration?
"They've already coached the best,'' Austin said. "They've coached Wes Welker and Dez Bryant and [Justin Blackmon]. All of those guys are in the [NFL] now or will be. So you have to pay attention.''
Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or dphickm...@aol.com.