During the past several seasons, West Virginia has struggled at the cornerback position. They have been beat consistently. But now, the Mountaineers may finally have their cornerback situation fixed.
After being torched for three plays of more than 40 yards against South Florida, the West Virginia cornerbacks stepped up, allowing only one passer to go for more than 200 yards in their final five games. That was to Cincinnati, and the Mountaineers held them to nearly 90 yards below their season average.
Senior Brandon Hogan will enter his third season as a starting cornerback. He came to West Virginia as a quarterback, but played wide receiver his freshman year before moving to corner his sophomore year. He had a great junior year, being named first-team All-Big East and an honorable mention All-American by Sports Illustrated .
However, Hogan has been in head coach Bill Stewart’s doghouse lately. For a variety of reasons, he has been running stadium stairs instead of practicing. He is still the No. 1 cornerback, but that could change should he continue to have off-the-field problems. Should he stay on Stewart’s good side, he has the potential to be the Mountaineers first shut-down cornerback since Adam “Pac-man” Jones.
Opposite Hogan is junior Keith Tandy. At times last year, he was not well-liked by Mountaineer fans, because he was getting beat deep on a consistent basis. In the South Florida game, he was beat deep on several plays, two of which led to touchdowns.
However, after the South Florida game, his play stepped up. He had a key play in both the Cincinnati and Pittsburgh games. Against Cincinnati, he forced a fumble which led to a West Virginia touchdown. At the end of the first half of the Pittsburgh game, he broke off Jonathan Baldwin’s route to intercept a pass, which set up a field goal.
Tandy is the Mountaineers' best tackling corner. After his poor game against South Florida, he stepped-up, and he should continue his strong play from the second half of the 2009 season.
Behind Hogan and Tandy is a pair of talented but young cornerbacks.
The first is sophomore Pat Miller. Miller comes from Alabama high school powerhouse Hoover High. He saw playing time in most of the games last year, even if he only played sparingly. Should West Virginia decide to play three cornerbacks, he would be the nickel back. Miller will take over for Hogan as a starter in 2011, so he should get more playing time than he did a year ago.
Redshirt freshman Brodrick Jenkins is a talented young cornerback out of Florida. He did not play in 2009, but he will be on the two-deep this season. Jenkins, along with Miller, should provide quality depth at a position where West Virginia has been weak the past few years. The will provide the Mountaineers with a pair of quality cornerbacks for the next couple of years.
For the Mountaineers, a position that was once a weakness looks to finally have a solution, not just for the 2010 season, but for the next couple years. If Hogan and Tandy play to their ability, they should both be All-Big East performers.