MORGANTOWN - Keith Tandy is a pretty smart guy, and it's that quality, perhaps just as much as his natural talent, that will serve him most as he prepares for what figures to be his final and most challenging season as a West Virginia cornerback.
The Big East's leader in interceptions and passes defended as a junior, Tandy is keen enough to realize that his position as such was a result of equal parts opportunity and good fortune - and the former a product of the latter.
He was presented with so many opportunities to make plays because of the good fortune he had to play on a defense that had few weak links.
Really, now, who were opposing offenses going to attack? Was it Brandon Hogan, who between suspensions and other bone-headed off-the-field moves had developed into the league's best cover corner? Was it the rangy Robert Sands at the back end of WVU's defense?
No, it was Tandy, who while certainly not a weak link was at the same time seen as the most vulnerable. That he stepped up and proved those offenses wrong with his six picks and 11 passes broken up was admirable, but it is also proof that he was the guy to whose side the ball was most often being thrown.
Anyway, back to the smart-guy part of the equation, which is that Tandy understands all of that. He knows that on a defense that ranked third in the country in yards and points allowed, there weren't many great places to attack.
"So I guess they threw it my way,'' he said.
This is where Tandy's awareness of all of that is going to serve him best. He understands that after that defense lost seven starters from a year ago, there are going to be a lot more places to attack next season. Merely being as good in 2011 and he was in 2010 isn't going to cut it.
"I know how hard it's going to be without those guys,'' Tandy said.
As West Virginia goes through spring drills this month, Tandy isn't just cruising along. He's not letting those gaudy numbers from a year ago go to his head, and he isn't resting on his laurels.
The fact is, he's working harder than ever because he knows he has to.