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Making a Contribution

By Julie Brown for
September 09, 2010 06:07 PM
MORGANTOWN, W. Va. – Every college football team has players that fly under the radar. Most people focus on the big names - the names that are going to score points and winning touchdowns and provide the best form of entertainment while doing so.

Yet every once in a while a player will perform so well that it can take the spotlight away from the usual candidates.

In the Mountaineers’ opening game against Coastal Carolina, the defense did take the spotlight away from the offense by posting a shutout, the first time that has done in nearly five years. And Terence Garvin suddenly found himself being voted the defensive player of the week by the coaching staff after his own solid performance in the season opener.

“I was just doing my job. A lot of plays were cut backs, and the cut backs were really just coming to me,” he shrugged.

Garvin led the Mountaineer defense with 10 tackles against Coastal, including one tackle for loss, four solo tackles and six assisted stops. These statistics detailed a noticeable difference from his opening game performance against Liberty last year, when he recorded much less playing time and only one solo tackle as a freshman.

“Terence had a good football game and he made the plays that he needs to make for us,” said defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel. “Those are the things that we’re trying to stress with our guys. You don’t have to be a super hero - you just have to be able to make the play that you need to make on a consistent basis.”

Playing in 10 games as a freshman helped Garvin adjust quickly to the college game. A standout athlete in high school much like many of his Mountaineer teammates, Garvin still found the transition to be a little bit more difficult than anticipated. Despite this obstacle, however, he was able to have a successful freshman season, seeing action on at least 62 plays and participating on both defense and special teams.

After being provided with the opportunity to gain more experience and confidence during the offseason and spring camp, Garvin capitalized to come away with this season’s starting job at spur safety.

“He’s had a great camp. He’s gotten a lot stronger since this time last year, when we were playing him a little bit as a true freshman. He’s really coming around, and again he’s going to get better as he gets stronger,” Casteel said.

“Camp helped me out a lot,” added Garvin. “It helped me learn more about my position and taught me to play my position faster. When you know more about what you’re doing you can fly around, and you can really help your team out more.”

While speed is a definite strength and not uncommon on this year’s defense, Coach Casteel believes that the Mountaineers are keeping par with where they’ve been during the past few seasons.

“I think we’re about where we’ve been just about any other year. We’ve got some kids that can run in certain positions, but I wouldn’t say that we’re any faster than we’ve ever been,” he said.

However, speed was undoubtedly a contributing factor on the field last Saturday, allowing the Mountaineer defense to keep Coastal Carolina’s offense quiet and ineffective, and enabling the shutout performance.

“The shutout felt good. That’s what we want, we want to shut teams out. If they don’t score, they can’t win and that’s what J.T. (Thomas) kept saying during the game,” said Garvin.

West Virginia plans to keep its defense playing with confidence as the Mountaineers travel to Marshall for the Friends of Coal Bowl this Friday night. Yet despite a strong team performance in the season opener, there were still plenty of mistakes to be fixed and skills to hone for the future - something that Coach Bill Stewart recognized and planned to work on right away.

“Right after the game, Coach Stewart started talking about Marshall,” said Garvin. “Every game is a big game for him, and he’s focused on our next opponent.”

And while Garvin is aware of the in-state rivalry and sense of pride associated with the upcoming game, he’s also energized about the opportunity to play his first college game under the lights.

“It’s my first Friday game in college,” he said. “It should be pretty fun.”

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