When Marvin Austin decided to stay for his senior season, I, for one, was glad to see it. I thought that it’s refreshing to see a kid finish school and polish their craft while many are leaving school early to get a large pay check. Many suspected that Austin could have been a first round draft pick had he declared, but instead, he opted to stay.
After an NCAA investigation, it’s now looking like Austin will be suspended for his senior season and will miss out on the opportunity to further develop his game. It’s a bit depressing because at times, Austin flashes supreme talent at the defensive tackle position and some very high potential. While he certainly has flaws in his game, the talent is certainly there.
I had the chance to take a look at three Austin clips from the 2009 season, thanks to our scout and video coordinator, Aaron Aloysius. Let’s closely examine these clips to see what Austin can do well, and what he struggles with.
Austin vs. Virginia – 10/3/09
The first thing that stands out in the clip, and you can see it on the very first play, is Austin will frequently fail to fully extend his arms and keep the blockers at bay. In the first play, Austin takes on the blocker pad-to-pad, failing to disengage the blocker and make the play. On the following play (:13), Austin makes up for his previous mistake. While he lets the blocker get closer than he should, he does a nice job of using his hands to get off the block and make the tackle. At :53 in, Austin makes another costly mistake, allowing an angle block to take him entirely out of the play. Austin needs to do a better job anchoring against stronger blockers in the run game to redirect the blocker. Early on, Austin shows great pursuit on the ball carrier (prime example at 1:08), but he seems to slow down in the second half of games. That can be seen not only in the Virginia game, but of pretty much all of Austin’s tape. A perfect example of Austin appearing winded is at 1:55, when he does a great job of getting off the block but then seems like he’s in cement shoes when the runner shoots right by him. His lack of effort continues at 2:03 when Austin gets completely washed out of the play and Virginia rushes for an easy touchdown.
Austin vs. Boston College 11/21/09
At first glance, this might be Austin at his best. However, Austin just seems to be taking advantage of a relatively weak BC interior offensive line as well as some very tight coverage in the secondary. Austin did display some solid technique in this matchup, including a nice rip move (:13), a spin move (:44), the ability to chase down short passes (1:55) and the awareness to get his hands up into the quarterback’s passing lane (3:05). Just like in the Virginia game, Austin starts to ware down in the 2nd half, the best example of which is at 2:28. Austin records a sack in the final minutes (3:25) but clearly, this was due more to strong coverage than pass rush ability.
Austin vs. Pittsburgh – 12/31/09
The game against Pitt showed us a few things about Austin. Mainly, it showed that Austin isn’t strong against a double-team at all. Austin fails to anchor against the double-team block (:16, :50), allowing Pitt to open up huge running lanes. Now, this is also solid game planning from the Panthers, but it’s also revealing about Austin’s abilities at the point of attack. Austin was frequently overpowered by strong blockers, the best examples of which are at 1:27 and 1:41. When he faced single blockers, he showed quick lateral movement down the line (:01) when the rush went to the outside. Austin appeared to be very slow off the ball against Pitt (:16, :30, 1:09, etc), which constantly put him at a disadvantage. All in all, this game proved that Austin is a “one-gap penetrator” type, and will have to play in a 4-3 scheme in the NFL to be successful. Austin isn’t strong enough at the point of attack, use his arms and hands well enough and anchor himself against blockers anywhere near well enough to play defensive end in a 3-4 defense. Austin has showed us that as a pass rusher, he has a variety of moves and is quick to shoot the gap, which is more than likely how he’ll make a name for himself at the next level.