Maryland tailback Willie Joyner, the team's leading rusher against Penn State on Saturday and a cowinner of the Atlantic Coast Conference offensive player of the week award, may have to sit out this week's game at West Virginia because of a hyperextended toe.

Joyner, who ran for 77 yards and two touchdowns and caught three passes for 26 yards, said yesterday he remembers stubbing his left foot in the Beaver Stadium grass during the second quarter. But at halftime, Joyner put a plastic plate in his shoe to restrict the movement of the toe, and ran for a 10-yard touchdown midway through the fourth quarter of the 39-31 loss.

"I didn't think anything about it at first," Joyner said. "I had on two pair of socks and I just thought they were too tight. But as you can see, it's blown up since." Joyner walked with crutches yesterday, and a bandage around the big toe on his left foot. But he said he will try to practice this afternoon.

"My first start last year was against West Virginia (Joyner ran for 96 yards) and we lost. I want to erase that. I'd like to play." Coach Bobby Ross, however, was not optimistic that Joyner will be in the lineup.

"I'll be very surprised if he plays," Ross said. "The swelling has gone down, but in my experiences with turf toe, it usually takes a couple of weeks to heal. And it doesn't help to be playing on AstroTurf (at West Virginia)."

Joyner, a junior from Brooklyn, N.Y., injured his foot in the same manner against Penn State his freshman year and missed the rest of the season. He tried to play too soon last year after a groin pull and subsequently missed parts of several games.

Joyner shared the ACC weekly award with split end Ricky Wall of North Carolina State, who caught two touchdown passes in the Wolfpack's 33-26 victory over East Carolina.

Joyner's replacements against West Virginia would be Vernon Carter, a sophomore, and Troy Island, a junior-college transfer from Oxon Hill.

"I don't think there will be much of a dropoff," Ross said. "And we expect to get more out of John Nash (the starting fullback). Whoever gets hot between Carter and Island will play the most."

"Willie's being injured will be a loss because of the amount of effort he gives," said tight end John Tice. "But Vernon and Troy together can make it up."

Carter, whose style is similar to Joyner's, carried twice for nine yards Saturday.

"I feel Vernon can jump in and do just as well in the offense," Joyner said. Island didn't handle the ball Saturday, but he is the fastest of the three.

"West Virginia's overall defense may be faster than Penn State's," said Ross. The Mountaineers provided the major upset of the young season Saturday, stunning Oklahoma, 41-27, at Norman. For that, West Virginia Coach Don Nehlen was named coach of the week by United Press International.

The state is so excited about the Mountaineers that Gov. Jay Rockefeller visited the team on Monday. West Virginia officials said yesterday they are expecting approximately 54,000 in Mountaineer Stadium, which would be the school's record crowd.

Despite Alan Sadler's 42-yard punting average against Penn State, he will have to kick well in Maryland drills this week to hold onto his job. Glenn Watson, a walk-on, is Sadler's main competition. "We're kicking for competition every day this week," Ross said. "We're keeping charts on getaway time, height and distance. Whoever does the best this week will start."