2011 WVU Football Season Preview: Defensive Backs

WVU finds itself in the position of having to replace three of the five starting defensive backs from the 2010 season and seven defensive starters overall.  They also wave goodbye to three guys that made the Mountaineers the 11th best pass defense in the country, statistically.  They are also fighting the stigma that goes along with losing so many starters.  The flip side of that coin is that the three new guys all have a chance to make a name for themselves and show the other 98% of the country why they are so wrong. 

What they have returning is the guy that lead the Big East in interceptions in Keith Tandy, and a safety that is...a lot bigger than I thought, in Terence Garvin.  He also lead the team in solo and total tackles in 2010.  So the cupboard isn't bare, as they say.  It just has a little extra room.  What these two guys do as leaders will have as much to do with how the unit performs this year as anything.  Tandy, of course, is the perfect example of a corner that got a lot more action because of the guy on the opposite side of the field.  He'll need to share that knowledge with all the players competing for the other corner spot.  He'll also need to tell the safeties what happened last year at their position to make him so successful.  So yeah, if you guys could be 6'5", fast, and aggressive, that'd be great.

The key word for safeties coach, Steve Dunlap is consistency.

"Once we get consistent play out of some guys, whoever those guys are, those will be the guys we see out there on game day."

Unfortunately, he doesn't know who those guys are right now.  So we'll just have to throw darts at a picture of John Marinatto we haven't used yet to help clear things up after the jump.

John-marinatto-sched_medium

This picture has everything to do with Georgetown and Syracuse only playing once this coming basketball season.  Yes, it does say Forward by: Jim Burr along the top.  We're not actually going to throw darts at the commissioner, though.  We would suggest that there are three main parts to this picture.  There are also three starting safety spots.  And if the starting chances are represented by the size of the object, Terence Garvin would be the body of the commish.  He seems calm and comfortable with his role and he'll make a good leader for this group. Senior Eain Smith seems to be the book in this case.  But he has Matt Moro and Travis Bell competing with him for the free safety spot. Darwin Cook and Shaq Petteway are competing for the head.  No. Wait. the bandit safety position. Neither has set themselves apart.  But, if a true freshman is competing for a starting spot, I'd remember that name.

The cornerback position will have less pictures associated with it, but it's no less important.  Tandy should be solid.  Pat Miller is in the lead to man the opposite corner according to cornerbacks coach David Lockwood.  He's the one that is going to have to step up and be ready to be picked on.  Behind him, Brodrick Jenkins and Brantwon Bowser have experience in third down packages.  Lockwood is looking for them to step up.

"It’s huge because when we go out there on Sept. 4, it won’t be their first time in the heat of the battle," says Lockwood.  "Those guys played in all 13 games last year, so again, now it’s just time for developing and becoming a 20-, 30-, 40-, 50-play guy as opposed to a 10- or 15-play guy."

Freshman Avery Williams has also been mentioned by Casteel as someone that is making plays, but needs to be more consistent.

Consistency seems to be a popular word round here.I think there's potential for this unit.  That's what I get from the coach interviews.  Hopefully the defensive backs and the defense as a whole can achieve that potential early  and be consistent with it throughout the year.  Is that how I was supposed to say it, coach?

Check back tomorrow when we preview the linebacking corps.

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