"It's a pain in the rear end, especially with a six-day work week,'' Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads said. "It's hard enough to prepare for the offenses you face in this league [in a full week]. And then they start doing things different and you've got the unknown.
"You don't want to chase ghosts, but to a certain extent you have to, especially when a player is as talented as he is. You don't do that against the University of Oklahoma and their personnel. You just don't do that. He's a very, very special player and now you've got to spend the time to make sure you're ready for it, you're aligned for it and give your kids at least a chance to try and tackle him.''
If the Austin-in-the-backfield element was the primary thing that an opposing defense had to worry about and prepare for, it would be manageable. But it's not.
With Austin forcing Oklahoma's safeties to pay more attention to the run, Geno Smith and Stedman Bailey also had another huge game. Bailey caught 13 of Smith's passes for 205 yards and four touchdowns and on several occasions managed to do something that had become increasingly rare of late - get behind a defense that had to play the run.
Iowa State won't play the same defensive alignment as Oklahoma, of course. In fact, the Cyclones are adamant about stopping the run against every team they face, whereas Oklahoma pretty much concedes it in order to prevent big plays in the passing game. That means Austin won't be taking handoffs and immediately finding open space against a five-man box, which is what led to his huge rushing day.
Austin can, however, have some success running the ball if West Virginia's offense can make some plays elsewhere. He touched the ball on about 30 percent of the offensive plays last week, which is considerable. But that also means that on 70 percent, he did not. The Mountaineers have to make things happen on those plays.
"He got the ball 25 times [21 rushes and four receptions] out of about 90 plays [actually 82],'' Dawson said. "That's a good amount and probably as much as he should be getting it. But those other guys have to make plays, too.''
Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or dphickm...@aol.com or follow him at twitter.com/dphickman1