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November 29, 2006

Darnell, Selvie prove defense wins games

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For the first time all season, Rivals.com's weekly national awards are being hogged by the defense.

Texas A&M's Gary Darnell is our National Coordinator of the Week for helping to engineer the Aggies' stunning 12-7 victory at Texas.

South Florida defensive end George Selvie is our National Freshman of the Week for his stellar play in the Bulls' shocking 24-19 upset at West Virginia.

"It was just one of those special days," Darnell told Rivals.com in the wake of holding the Longhorns nearly 30 points below their scoring average. "We wanted to stop the run for sure. We felt if we could hold up with our base defense and not stress our secondary to come up and help that we'd be all right."

The Aggies were just fine. They held Texas to a season-low 70 rushing yards and a season-low 230 total yards.

Darnell's defense didn't blitz much but still got pressure on Longhorns quarterback Colt McCoy. It hassled the redshirt freshman into three interceptions (he entered with only four all season), sacked him twice and generally made his life miserable.

"Usually the way it has worked for us is if the coverage is good and we run tight coverages it buys time for our pass rush," Darnell said. "We've had that going along for us pretty well all season. I think teams are around 26 percent on third down against us.

"We don't have a lot of sacks and we don't blitz that much, but we play tight zone coverage."

Darnell said he was particularly proud of the secondary play against Texas, and he was quick to credit the rest of the defensive staff for a job well done.

Selvie, showing that he has been well-coached, also deflected the credit to his teammates.

"West Virginia has a high-powered offense with a good quarterback and a good running back, and stopping them was a big deal," said Selvie, who had eight tackles including 3.5 for loss and a 9-yard fumble return for a touchdown. "The scheme worked well, but I couldn't have done what I did without (fellow freshman) Chris Robinson forcing that fumble, and I couldn't have made the tackles for loss without the weakside defensive end staying at home and cutting off some of their runs."

Selvie said the Bulls scheme basically was to stay at home. Nobody has been able to stop the West Virginia attack like USF. The Bulls held the Mountaineers to a season-low 132 rushing yards, 180 below their average.

West Virginia also went without a rushing touchdown for the first time all season.

"You have to play your responsibility," Selvie said. "If you've got the running back, you go with the running back. You stick with the scheme."

Selvie has stuck with the scheme all season. He is fourth on the USF team in tackles with 76, including 12 for loss and 5.5 sacks. He also has a team-high nine QB hurries and has forced three fumbles.

He has surprised even himself.

"I would never have thought I'd even be starting right now," Selvie said. "I just thank my coaches and my teammates."

Other freshmen nominated for the Rivals.com honor were:

Clemson running back C.J. Spiller, who had 155 yards and two touchdowns on just 10 carries in a 31-28 loss to South Carolina.

North Carolina wide receiver Hakeem Nicks, who had seven catches for 117 yards - including an 83-yard touchdown - in the Tar Heels' 45-44 thriller over Duke.

Tennessee running back LaMarcus Coker, who had 90 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries and added four receptions for 51 yards in the Vols' 17-12 squeaker over Kentucky.

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