WVU corner wants revenge against South Florida
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — West Virginia cornerback Keith Tandy has had Thursday's game against South Florida circled for months.
In last year's 30-19 loss to USF, he was beaten deep twice by receiver Carlton Mitchell, now of the Cleveland Browns. One of those plays went for a 48-yard touchdown and the other set up a score.
"The game was tight, so if I would've made a play or knocked the ball down or even gotten a pass interference, we would've won," Tandy said.
After the game, WVU coach Bill Stewart was criticized for keeping Tandy in the game despite his struggles. But Stewart strongly backed his then-sophomore cornerback.
Stewart said Tandy still gets beat from time to time, including the 96-yard touchdown he gave up this year against Marshall. But Stewart also noted Tandy's improvement.
"(Tandy) would be the first to admit that he had to grow up fast that night," Stewart said. "But as of late, he's made more plays than he's been played.
"Keith has a short memory, and you better if you're going to play corner. I just think Keith has matured and is a tremendous athlete."
Tandy considers himself a completely different player from what he was against South Florida in 2009, and his teammates consider him to be one of the team's best leaders.
"He does everything right, and he's there to help you," said sophomore cornerback Pat Miller. "If you watch him play, you will learn something. I look at him and how he plays, and I try to do the same thing."
So far this season, Tandy has three of his team's five interceptions, including two against UNLV last Saturday. All three of those interceptions have come off tipped balls - from either the receiver or another WVU defender - and Tandy credits his better understanding of the defense and where he needs to be on each play.
"The receiver and quarterback know what routes they're going to run, and if you have a clue, it helps you put yourself in a situation to make a play," Tandy said.
Tandy also credits that ugly night in Tampa last year.
"You get beat and realize that it's not the end of the world," he said. "I gained confidence from that game. You're going to get beat when you're out there by yourself on an island. The thing about it is how you bounce back."
NOTES: Stewart announced that freshman quarterback Jeremy Johnson has decided to leave the program for personal reasons. Johnson was behind Geno Smith and Barry Brunetti on the depth chart. ... WVU's injury report this week is the smallest its been since the start of the season. There are no players out, doubtful or questionable. Listed as probable are defensive end Will Clarke (ankle), safety Darwin Cook (ankle), running back Noel Devine (foot), cornerback Brandon Hogan (arm) and offensive lineman Josh Jenkins (knee).
No. 25 West Virginia vs. South Florida
7:30 p.m. today, Milan Puskar Stadium, Morgantown, W.Va.
TV/radio: ESPN/WVAQ-FM (101.9), Mountaineer Sports Network
Favorite: WVU by 10 1/2
Records: West Virginia 4-1, USF 3-2
Series: South Florida leads, 3-2