Berry Tramel

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Oklahoma State football: Kickoff returns no longer a strength

by Berry Tramel Published: November 5, 2012

OSU already has lost one football game in large part because of a kickoff return – D.J. Monroe’s 100-yard return in the second quarter that gave Texas a 21-14 lead en route to a 41-36 victory.

Now to Stillwater comes another superb kick returner, West Virginia’s Tavon Austin on Saturday, a week after the Cowboys gave up another 100-yard return, to Kansas State’s Tylen Lockett. Lockett’s TD didn’t cost OSU the victory — the Wildcats won 44-30 – but it didn’t help.

West Virginia's Tavon Austin (1) rounds the corner on a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown during the second quarter of an NCAA college football game against Kansas State in Morgantown, W.Va., Saturday, Oct. 20, 2012. (AP Photo/Christopher Jackson)
West Virginia's Tavon Austin (1) rounds the corner on a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown during the second quarter of an NCAA college football game against Kansas State in Morgantown, W.Va., Saturday, Oct. 20, 2012. (AP Photo/Christopher Jackson)

And that leads to some trouble for OSU. Quinn Sharp has kicked off 59 times this season and produced 47 touchbacks. But two of his 12 non-touchbacks have been returned for touchdowns.

OSU is giving up 33.5 yards per kickoff return, an astounding average. The Cowboys, who against KSU got an 80-yard kickoff return for a TD from Desmond Roland, came into the season believing they would enjoy a huge edge on kickoffs. That hasn’t happened.

Meanwhile, Austin has 16 kickoff returns this season, for a 32.9-yard average. Seven other West Virginia players have combined for 16 more kickoff returns. None have a longer return than 21 yards or a higher average than 17.2 yards.

The mission for Sharp on Saturday is clear. Kick the ball out of the end zone, or kick it to someone besides Tavon Austin.

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by Berry Tramel
Columnist
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The...
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