Boston College linebacker Brian Toal lined up behind his teammates on offense and scored the game-winning, 1-yard touchdown run in last year's 16-13 overtime win against Clemson, but it was his defensive skills that left Tigers coach Tommy Bowden impressed.
Toal will again be a concern for Clemson (1-0, 0-0) when the teams meet at 3:30 p.m. tomorrow in Chestnut Hill, Mass., for their first Atlantic Coast Conference matchup of the season.
"I remember him more as a linebacker," Bowden said. "He made the one play on offense, but he made a lot more on defense."
Toal had one sack in that game last year, and pushed Clemson running back Reggie Merriweather for a loss of 2 yards on third-and-two, preventing the Tigers from scoring in the opening series of overtime and forcing them to settle for a field goal. In Boston College's 31-24 win at Central Michigan on Aug. 31, Toal had a late interception and also scored a touchdown.
Boston College coach Tom O'Brien said that during Toal's recruiting process, Toal had talked about how he still wanted the opportunity to run the football in college. O'Brien said he told Toal the staff would consider using him as a short-yardage goal-line back after his freshman year.
Now, Toal is a three-year player who has earned the trust of his teammates - regardless of what side he lines up with.
"He's been able to make things happen in those situations for us," O'Brien said. "One of the major selling points was that if he got a first down, he'd probably get two or three minutes of rest on the bench. He thought that was a good idea."
Meanwhile, O'Brien said junior quarterback Matt Ryan, who sprained his left ankle against Central Michigan, is questionable and will be a game-time decision. Clemson will be without star linebacker Anthony Waters, who tore his anterior cruciate ligament in the season opener against Florida Atlantic.
Wimbush may play
Maryland safety Marcus Wimbush did not practice yesterday because he has a nagging knee injury, coach Ralph Friedgen said. Friedgen said Wimbush should play tomorrow against Middle Tennessee State, but if he doesn't, it's not because of the three misdemeanor charges he's facing for an incident in October.
Wimbush was charged in March with two counts of second-degree assault and a fourth-degree sex offense.
"I kind of knew what was happening all along," Friedgen said. " ... I didn't know when there was a court date. I've interviewed quite a number of people. To me it's out of my hands. He was punished for violating team rules. Anything other than that, you gotta let the judicial system square it away. That's the way I'm approaching it.
"I feel bad for Marcus because you know how that is, it's an embarrassment," he said. "Last I heard, you were innocent until proven guilty. Not the other way around, right?"
Meanwhile, receiver Drew Weatherly had surgery on his right foot yesterday and is expected to miss about two weeks, Friedgen said. Weatherly had a stress fracture, and Friedgen said a screw was inserted into his foot.
Friedgen also said right tackle Jared Gaither "will play a lot," but whether he works his way back into the starting lineup will have a lot to do with where Dane Randolph is at game time. Randolph returned to practice this week after spraining his ankle.
Skinner takes over
For just one day - probably before ACC officials in Greensboro, N.C., noticed their statistics didn't have a minimum for completions - Wake Forest redshirt freshman quarterback Riley Skinner was listed as second in the ACC in passing efficiency.
Skinner, who will start tomorrow against Duke in place of injured junior Benjamin Mauk, had only thrown one pass in college - but it was a completion.
Now, with Mauk sidelined for the rest of the season with a broken right arm and dislocated right shoulder, Skinner will be expected to throw a lot more.
Coach Jim Grobe said he's not going to change the offense at all, but will "probably pare it down each week."
"From week to week we may need to be careful about how much we have in our game plan," Grobe said. "We've got to give him things he can be successful doing and not overwhelm him mentally because if he's doing too much thinking that can lead to problems."
Nowhere to run
Florida State managed one measly yard of rushing offense in Monday's prime-time win over Miami, but Seminoles coach Bobby Bowden pointed out that Miami's defense didn't have any sacks because they were "so determined to stop the running game."
"They hadn't been scoutin' us," Bowden said with a chuckle. "They hadn't found out we can't run."
In case there were any doubts, he followed that with, "I'm being facetious there, now."
Florida State will host Troy (1-0) tomorrow, and Florida A&M; (0-1) is at Miami.