Building on Experience

No one was more shocked than Keith Tandy when he was told that he would get his first start at cornerback against North Carolina in the Meineke Car Care Bowl. The redshirt freshman started in place of the absent Brandon Hogan and the game brought him more sustained experience than he had seen all season.

Tandy saw time in 55 plays in the bowl game and made a season high three solo tackles as the Mountaineers knocked off the Tar Heels. He credits his experience in the game as a learning experience for this season.

"The experience (in the bowl game) gave me a lot of confidence," said Tandy. "Playing then is what got me where I am now. I just worked on getting focused before the game. At lot of times it's good to find out (about starting) all of the sudden because you don't have time to get nervous. Once the game started, I was all amped up and I just tried to make sure I stayed calm during the game."

Despite having experience in just six games last season, Tandy sees himself as a leader at cornerback this year. With the loss of senior Ellis Lankster, Tandy is the current front runner as a starter at the right cornerback position.

"Right now, I need to be one of the leaders in the cornerback room," said Tandy. "I am doing a lot of coaching right now. You can learn a lot more by coaching than when you're being taught."

The sophomore realizes that the spot at right corner is far from sealed up for him, however. He is still taking every practice like a battle in hopes of winning the starting role, and is also using the teaching that he does to further reinforce the fundamentals and techniques that he needs to execute. "It's a competition," admitted Tandy. "It's a competition but it's a friendly competition. Me, Eddie (Davis), Kent (Richardson), (Guesly) Dervil, and Brantwon (Bowser) all hang out off of the field. On the field, we're not fighting each other or hoping each other does badly. We want to see everyone succeed."

Tandy is looking to veteran left cornerback, junior Brandon Hogan for advice on how to handle seeing more playing time as well as pointers to improve at the position. Hogan, who was surprisingly moved to the defense last year, went through much the same quick indoctrination that Tandy did, and despite just one year's time at corner is now the seasoned veteran of the corps. "(Hogan) is the guy at corner (back) right now," said Tandy. "I try to watch him. He's being more of a vocal leader. He's always been a leader by example but now he's been more vocal, especially in the cornerback room. (He's taught me) to just to forget what happened in that play and focus on the next play."

Tandy plans to continue to coach as spring practice winds down – a role that will become more important over the summer, as players get together and work out without the supervision of their coaches. Tandy is confident that he will continue to improve, even without the surveillance of cornerbacks coach David Lockwood.

"We will still be able to work on technique," said Tandy. "(However) sometimes when you watch film you see where you mess up at and you get to see what the coaches say (about it.)"

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