MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – West Virginia’s defense will be down two players when the Mountaineers face Clemson in the 2012 Discover Orange Bowl in Miami Gardens, Fla., Jan. 4, says Mountaineer coach Dana Holgorsen.
Following Wednesday’s practice, Holgorsen revealed during a regularly scheduled news conference that starting strong safety Terence Garvin and backup nose tackle Josh Taylor have knee injuries and will not be available for the bowl game.
Garvin, who also missed the Cincinnati game because of injury, was third on the team in tackles with 72 while also accumulating 5 ½ tackles for losses and 3 ½ sacks. Taylor, a senior, appeared in eight games playing behind starter Jorge Wright, making nine tackles and recording ½ sack.
“Terence Garvin had cartilage damage after the South Florida game,” said Holgorsen. “He has had successful surgery and will obviously miss the game. It will be about a six month rehab process. We wanted to hurry up and get him fixed and healed so we can get him ready for next year.
“Josh Taylor is done,” added Holgorsen. “He has had some cartilage damage. We tried to get him back and ready to go but he can’t do it. His career here will be over.”
Besides those two, and wide receiver Brad Starks, who injured his knee in the loss to Louisville, Holgorsen says the rest of his team is pretty healthy.
“I feel we are in good shape and healing up pretty good,” he said. “We are probably as healthy as we have been beside those other two guys.”
Holgorsen said he’s not sure who will take Garvin’s spot in the starting lineup on Jan. 4.
“It’s up for grabs,” he said. “We have (freshman) Wes Tonkery – he has been taking a bunch of snaps. He looks good to me. He looks as good as he has all year. (Freshman) Shaq Petteway is going to get in there and play some. (JC transfer) Matt Moro is a guy that needs to get in there and play some. We have guys that are inexperienced and haven’t played much. We have gone into a game without Terence before. We got in there and overcame it, so we expect to overcome this one as well. “
* Holgorsen said Josh Jenkins and freshman Terrell Chestnut continue to rehab injuries and are on target to be ready for spring ball. “Josh Jenkins and Terrell Chestnut are all fixed,” Holgorsen said. “Jenkins and Chestnut are healing really well and will be ready to join the team in January when we get back Jan. 9.”
* The team wrapped up academic work for the first semester last Friday and Holgorsen was extremely pleased with the performance of his team in the class room, noting seven guys earned 4.0s this semester.
“I am very proud on how they did academically,” he said. “I think being able to go to the Orange Bowl got these guys to kick it into high gear these last two weeks and finish really strong. We had seven guys who ended the semester with a 4.0 (Ricky Kovatch, Ryan Nehlen, Cody Nutter, Steve Paskorz, Casey Vance, Michael Burchett and Nate Majnaric).
“We had 35 guys end the semester with a 3.0, so 42 of our guys really stepped it up and academically did really well,” he said. “We had one academic casualty - Vernard Roberts didn’t meet the NCAA standard to be able to go to the bowl game, so he has been suspended for the bowl game and we will see where he is at Jan. 9. Other than that, the guys finished the year strong and did what they were supposed to do to allow us to move forward as a program.”
* Holgorsen also provided an update of where his team is right now before breaking for Christmas on Friday.
“We have had seven practices. Today is when we started talking about Clemson a lot and started working toward Clemson. Prior to that, we had six practices where we focused on the young guys and the non-starters,” he said. “We got them a whole bunch of reps. I was really happy with how those practices went. In between recruiting, coming in and out and the lifting, we were able to get out there and get a whole bunch of work done. We will practice here and finish the week working on Clemson, trying to get as much as we possibly can get done before we give them Christmas and a few days off after that.”
After a break, the team will resume workouts in Miami on Dec. 30.
“Once we get down there, we have another four days to prepare,” Holgorsen said. “It is about how the attitude is and how much work we are going to get done. Based on what I saw today, everything’s going well.”
* Today’s practice plan included more contact work than usual.
“We didn’t want to just beat them up for a month,” Holgorsen explained. “That would just put us back to where we were at the last couple games of the season. The six practices that we had with the young guys, those were for the young guys, and we took the older guys out there and practiced them some, but we didn’t hit them very much. We let them heal for three weeks. Now, it’s time today and the next few days we want to get after it.
“We are going to give them some time off after that, so we want to tee it up,” said Holgorsen. “The energy was there and so was the effort. We need to get some game speed stuff as much as we can between here and the end of the week.
* Holgorsen said the team’s timing has been pretty good in the seven practices the team has had so far. That was something he was concerned about at the end of the season.
“I think we are good. We have worked on our timing,” Holgorsen said. “When I said we practiced with the young guys, we were still out there throwing and catching with the older guys. We have had seven practices to where we worked on a bunch of routes and stuff like that.”
* A tricky task for any coaching staff is making sure the team doesn’t peak too early for the bowl game. Holgorsen said he doesn’t believe that will be an issue because today was the first day the team has really worked on Clemson stuff.
“I have done it differently to where you sit and obsess about your opponent and you don’t try to get your people better,” he said. “Eventually, they’re like ‘yeah, yeah, I get it. I have heard it 100 times. When are we going to play this game?’
“I think we have done a pretty good job of that. Our guys are pretty excited about walking around the building,” he said. “They are excited to have some days off to go home and have Christmas, and they are excited about the actual bowl game. They have had three weeks of treatment and rest, and they have hopefully taken care of their bodies as well as they possibly can to where they feel refreshed. Now it’s time to get to know your opponent and understand why we are going to Miami. It is a reward, and I want them to have fun; I want them to enjoy it, enjoy each other, the scenery and the people. I am going to, too.
“When you set aside four hours, it is time to work,” Holgorsen said. “You shouldn’t have to set aside eight hours to work because we should have a lot of work done. You have to set aside some time to where we can get our work done, refresh them, and make them understand again why we are down there and then enjoy what the festivities are.”
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