The West Virginia Mountaineers had an erratic regular season but still wound up where they were hoping to be when the season began—in a BCS bowl. The frustrations of missed chances during the regular season are gone and mostly forgotten, as the Mountaineers basically have a clean slate headed into the Orange Bowl. Win the game and the season becomes a successful one.
That clean slate just got a little marked up, as head coach Dana Holgorsen announced Wednesday that starting safety Terence Garvin will miss the Orange Bowl as he recovers from knee surgery.
In a matchup that could go either way, Garvin's loss is huge news.
Clemson's offense relies most heavily on its passing game. Tigers quarterback Tahj Boyd has two spectacular targets in All-American wide receiver Sammy Watkins and Mackey Award-winning tight end Dwayne Allen.
When facing a team that has both a stellar wide receiver and standout tight end, the starting strong safety is the most important player on the defense. He will be called on to continuously shift between the two in coverage, as well as be asked to sometimes supply pressure on the quarterback in order to force errant throws.
In short, Garvin was the most important player on the West Virginia defense for the game against Clemson. Nobody on that defense is going to have more pressure placed on them than the starting strong safety, and Garvin had showed all signs this season of being able to handle that kind of player.
Garvin was third on the team in tackles, totaling 72—including 5.5 for loss and 3.5 sacks. He also had two interceptions and broke up three passes.
Garvin's loss doesn't necessarily doom West Virginia to defeat, but it sure makes things a whole lot more difficult for the Mountaineers.