By Mickey Furfari
Times West Virginian
West Virginia University linebacker Najee Goode and cornerback Pat Miller rank among the Big East’s leading tackles at the football season’s midway mark.
Goode, a senior, and Miller, a junior, are tied with Syracuse linebacker Dan Vaughan for ninth place in conference play.
They have 41 tackles each for six games to date. Goode has 15 solo tackles and 26 assists, Miller 30 and 11, and Vaughan 23 and 18.
Four Mountaineer defensive backs also are listed among Big East tacklers.
Sophomore Darwin Cook (39 tackles) is 12th; junior Terance Garvin (38) has a share of the 14th spot; and senior Eain Smith (33) and senior Keith Tandy (33) are tied for 23rd place.
Despite the graduation of seven starters from 2010, the WVU defense appears to be molding into a potentially strong unit. Much of the strength is coming from the secondary and the linebacking corps.
Goode said, “The Big East has good teams, and Syracuse (4-2) beat us last year here. And the Carrier Dome is a tough place to play.”
He also expects Big East challenges at such places as Rutgers, Cincinnati and South Florida .
Louisville and Pitt are the only remaining games at home, both in November. Goode believes playing at USF, which plays in an NFL stadium, presents a tough environment and a strong fan base.
“We’re getting some rest this week,” said Goode, referring to the open date on the WVU schedule. “It will help guys with injuries to relax a little bit.
“We’ve also been able to watch some film on Syracuse (next opponent on Friday night, Oct. 21). We also have more time to get better as a team.”
The Mountaineers, 5-1 and ranked 13th nationally, admittedly anticipate that the remaining six games – four on the road – will be more difficult than the first six.
“But we’ve got to begin focusing on Syracuse first,” Goode said. “I’m sure we’ll do a good job of preparing for that game.”
He is pleased that the defensive unit has come together pretty well, and he expects it to continue to get better.
Syracuse is coming off a 37-34 victory at Tulane. The Orange won that game on a last-second field goal.
Three other games in SU’s six-game start were decided in overtime.