Skinner might start against Terps

Georgia Tech running back Choice questionable

Duke hopes to head in new direction

ACC Notebook

September 20, 2007|By Heather A. Dinich | Heather A. Dinich,Sun Reporter

Wake Forest quarterback Riley Skinner is listed as probable and is healthy enough to start against Maryland on Saturday, coach Jim Grobe said, but that doesn't necessarily mean he will.

Skinner, who has missed the past two games with a mild separation of his right shoulder, has been throwing pain-free at practice, Grobe said. Still, Saturday's starter has yet to be announced.

"That's going to be up to Jeff Mullen, our quarterbacks coach, and we typically base that stuff on how they practice during the week," Grobe said. "Just from watching him [Tuesday], I would feel like he would be able to start if that's what Jeff wants to do."

Skinner completed 10 of 13 passes for 125 yards and a touchdown in last year's 38-24 win over Maryland. He was named Atlantic Coast Conference Rookie of the Year after leading the Demon Deacons to an unprecedented 11-win season and the league title as a redshirt freshman.

In his absence this year, backup Brett Hodges has completed 64.4 percent of his passes and averaged 106.3 yards per game. In three games, Hodges has thrown three interceptions and one touchdown.

Wake Forest (1-2, 0-1 ACC) enters the 3:30 p.m. matchup against visiting Maryland (2-1) with just one win, last weekend's 21-10 victory over Army. Grobe said Skinner's return would be a boost - "if he plays well."

"Sometimes you work so hard to get a kid back on the field that when he comes back he's not ready to go," Grobe said. "That's our biggest concern this week. First of all, we want to make sure he's physically capable of getting the job done, and then secondly is he capable of getting back into the groove as far as the mental aspect - picking up coverages and getting us in the right play and the right formations. He's been out of it for a while.

"He's got a lot of experience coming out of last season and we need that experience on the field," Grobe said, "but we've just got to make sure Riley's ready to roll."

Ga. Tech's Choice iffy

Georgia Tech leads the ACC in rushing, but running back Tashard Choice - the No. 2 rusher in the league - remains questionable (hamstring) for Saturday's noon game at Virginia, coach Chan Gailey said yesterday.

"If he can't go, then we'll turn it over to our other running backs," Gailey said. "We're fortunate we've got some very capable guys that can run the football. We'll still try to run the football. We're not going to all of a sudden become pass-happy."

The Yellow Jackets have rushed for a league-high 237 yards per game and have scored 13 touchdowns - all on the ground. They're the only team in the conference that hasn't thrown for a touchdown.

Jonathan Dwyer is the team's second-leading rusher with 60.3 yards per game. He has 23 carries for 181 yards and a team-high five touchdowns.

Duke wants new streak

It's finally over.

Duke ended its 22-game losing streak last weekend with its 20-14 win against Northwestern. Now the Blue Devils are working toward a new streak - consecutive wins. Duke hasn't won back-to-back games since early in the 2003 season, against Western Carolina and Rice.

"I would hope that we can use it as a springboard," coach Ted Roof said. "When you win one, then the next one becomes bigger because then you have the chance to win the next one in a row."

To accomplish that, they'll have to beat the No. 1 rushing offense in the country. The Blue Devils (1-2) travel to Annapolis for a 1 p.m. game at Navy (1-2).

Cavs' 12th (wo)man

Had it not been for a female manager, Virginia might have one fewer win.

Michelle Quiroga was near the end zone to get the ball after Chris Gould's 48-yard field-goal attempt last weekend at North Carolina. The officials said the kick was no good, but Quiroga saw it differently. She told Virginia coach Al Groh, who in turn challenged the call. Turns out she was right, and the Cavaliers went on to win, 22-20.

On yesterday's ACC teleconference, Ken Tysiac of The Charlotte Observer asked Groh if there has ever been a woman in league history who's had more of a direct impact on an ACC football game.

"Um, I haven't really thought of it in that context," Groh said. "I just though of Michelle more as a team member. We all have different roles to play. I don't think that was in her job description when she signed up, which was to confirm the official's call on field goals."

heather.dinich@baltsun.com

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