The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

College Sports

August 19, 2011

Flying under the radar

WVU junior Garvin knows how young defenders feel

MORGANTOWN — Terrence Garvin knows how the young guys on the West Virginia defense feel.

At this time last year, Garvin was the new guy on the block, trying to learn on the run as a starter at spur safety on what would be the nation’s third-best defense, and second against the run.

“I know exactly how they feel,” Garvin said. “Last year, I was the one asking Rob (Robert Sands) and Sidney (Glover) ‘What should I do here, what should I do there?’ Now, there are guys asking me and (Keith) Tandy, ‘What should I do here, what should I do there?’ It’s strange.”

If the current new kids on the block pan out as well as Garvin did, defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel may be in for another pay increase.

Last year, the 6-foot-3, 216-pound junior from Baltimore finished with 76 tackles and two fumble recoveries.

Now, with the loss of players like Sands, Brandon Hogan and Glover, Garvin is seen as one of the old guys.

“It’s a lot different,” Garvin said. “You learn a lot during the spring and the summer. You learn so much. I just try to do the same thing as last year, and I try to help those guys who don’t have much experience, the way those guys (Sands, Hogan and Glover) helped me last year.”

He offered this synopsis on the defensive backfield, a veritable who’s who without a program, after the secondary lost Robert Sands, Brandon Hogan and Sidney Glover.

“Tandy is going to do Tandy, and I’m going to try to do me,” Garvin said. “Darwin Cook, he’s new. He’s really good. He’s fast. Eain (Smith), back there, he’s really good. He’s been around here for five years. He knows the defense, and he gets his chance. Pat Miller has stepped up, and he’s going to get a chance.

“Everybody’s picking stuff up really fast. Everybody is learning,” Garvin said.

There is no difference scheme-wise; WVU is still a 3-3-5 stack defense.

“It’s really just different people,” Garvin said. “We’re younger. We’ve got a different identity for ourselves. Last year, everybody kind of new who Rob (Sands) was, who Hogan was. We’ve got to make a name for ourselves, really.”

He has a simple game plan of his own he uses and credits it for his success.

“I just want to be around the ball and make plays,” Garvin said. “Our defense is a real disciplined defense. You really can’t try to do too much or you really mess up the whole thing. You don’t try to do too much. You try to be perfect in what you are doing, and you try to pass that down to the younger guys.”

He pronounced himself satisfied, to a degree, with his run support last year. But his pass coverage, he said, needed work. And he got just that.

“Last year, I did pretty good in the run game, like taking on fullbacks, but I could have done a lot better,” Garvin said. “When I watch film now, I’m like, ‘Wow, what did I do there? That was really dumb.’ I really worked hard this summer on trying to be better on pass coverage. And with this offense we face every day, you really see where you’re at on pass coverage. They throw the ball so much.”

And that means only good things as the secondary undergoes an overhaul.

“Mentally, I’ve learned a lot, I understand the defense a lot better than I did last year,” Garvin said. “I understand exactly what I need to do on certain situations. Last year, I didn’t understand why I was somewhere, I just knew I had to be there. Now, I know why.”

While the defense is younger, guys like Tandy, Julian Miller and Bruce Irvin are garnering respect around the league and country.

Garvin flies under the radar, and that is fine with the soft-spoken junior.

“I’m not worried about what people think of me outside,” Garvin said. “I’m worried about what the coaches and players think of me. As long as I make plays and do my job, that’s the main thing.”

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