WVU football: Surgery sidelines Garvin for Orange Bowl
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- West Virginia will be without three contributors in next month's Orange Bowl against No. 14 Clemson.
Coach Dana Holgorsen said Wednesday starting safety Terence Garvin had season-ending knee surgery to repair an injury he suffered against South Florida.
Backup nose guard Josh Taylor will also miss the game with a knee injury that's bothered him for several games.
Freshman running back Vernard Roberts is academically ineligible.
Holgorsen said Garvin damaged cartilage against the Bulls on Dec. 1 and will soon begin a six-month rehabilitation process, keeping him out of spring practice. The junior strong safety from Baltimore is third on the team with 72 tackles. He added 31/2 sacks and two interceptions, one he returned for a touchdown.
Garvin missed the team's win against Cincinnati and was replaced by senior Eain Smith, who normally starts at free safety. Sophomore Travis Bell started in Smith's spot.
Holgorsen said the 23rd-ranked Mountaineers could look to fill Garvin's spot with Shinnston native and redshirt freshman Wes Tonkery, as well as freshman bandit safety Shaw Petteway and free safety Matt Moro.
"It's up for grabs," he said. "We've got some inexperienced guys who haven't played much, but we've gone into a game without Terence before."
Taylor, a senior from Miramar, Fla., about three miles from Sun Life Stadium, where the bowl will be played Jan. 4, also missed last year's bowl game because of grades. Taylor didn't play in three of the last four games with cartilage damage. He made nine tackles and had half a sack this season while backing up starter Jorge Wright.
Roberts started the second and fourth games this season, but was passed by freshman Dustin Garrison and junior Shawne Alston as the season went along. He had 140 yards and three touchdowns rushing and added 12 yards on four receptions.
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HOLGORSEN SAID 42 players had grade-point averages at or above 3.0 in the fall semester. Fullback Ricky Kovatch, receiver Ryan Nehlen, long snapper Cody Nutter, linebackers Steve Paskorz and Casey Vance, walk-on quarterback Michael Burchett and walk-on running back Nate Majnaric all had 4.0s.
"I'm really proud of how we did academically," Holgorsen said. "Being able to go to the Orange Bowl got some of these guys kicked into high gear for about two weeks and helped us finish strong."
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THE MOUNTAINEERS (9-3) returned to practice last Friday after finals week and mostly worked out younger players the next few days. Only Wednesday did they began preparations designed specifically for Clemson (10-3).
They'll go again today, Friday and Saturday and break Sunday before meeting up again in Miami on Dec. 29. WVU will have four days there to practice at Barry University.
"They're pretty excited to get a few days to go home for Christmas and they're excited they get to play in the Orange Bowl," Holgorsen said. "They've had a couple days to get treatment and a couple days to get rest and take care of their bodies as well as they can so they feel refreshed.
"Now's the time to get to know your opponent and the time to understand why we're going to Miami. It is a reward and you want the guys to have fun and you want them to enjoy it and you want them to enjoy each other. You want them to enjoy the scenery and enjoy the people - I'm going to. But you want them to know that when we set aside those four hours, it's time to work."
Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at email@example.com or 304-319-1142. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/wvu.