BACK SURGERY FOR ARMSTRONG: Nose tackle Robert Armstrong, whose future with the program was in doubt after he missed Thursday's scrimmage and Friday's practice, will have surgery to repair a bulging disk in his back and could return for the 2006 season.

"Robert's been injured, and I know he's been injured, and I think he was just a little frustrated he couldn't play as well as he can play," Coach Ralph Friedgen said. "I think we're going to go ahead and have the operation and just see where he's at after that."

Armstrong, a junior, and his parents met with Friedgen yesterday afternoon; his mother, Kathy, said Armstrong would have the surgery as soon as possible. . . .

Friedgen said he dealt with a bout of vertigo during recruiting season last winter, once waking up to find the room "spinning 100 miles an hour." Doctors told him he had a crystal in his inner ear, and the problem cleared up within a month. He said he also might have sleep apnea, which he attributed to the normal rigors of football season combined with the stress caused by last year's 5-6 mark.

"I'm an emotional guy," he said. "I usually don't try to bring it home, but there were a lot of things that just really were bothering me."

-- Dan Steinberg


BARTHELMES MOVES TO CENTER: Cavaliers senior Brian Barthelmes is on the move again. Barthelmes, who has started at left and right guard and played left and right tackle during his three-year career, could start at center when the Cavaliers open the season Sept. 3 against Western Michigan at Scott Stadium.

Barthelmes, from Parkman, Ohio, started every game at left guard last season. He worked at center during the spring and then moved ahead of sophomores Ian Yates-Cunningham and Jordy Lipsey, who were the leading candidates to replace center Zac Yarbrough, a second-team all-ACC selection last season.

"There's a good possibility that he could open the season there," Coach Al Groh said of Barthelmes during a teleconference with reporters Friday. Groh also said junior Christian Olsen, a transfer from Notre Dame, would be the number two quarterback behind starter Marques Hagans.

Virginia Tech

VICK LOOKS GOOD IN SCRIMMAGE: Virginia Tech held the last of its three preseason scrimmages yesterday, and Hokies Coach Frank Beamer declared that junior quarterback Marcus Vick is "right where he needs to be."

Vick, who will make his first start in the No. 8 Hokies' opener at North Carolina State on Sept. 4, completed 9 of 13 passes for 119 yards, including a 40-yarder to sophomore Josh Morgan (H.D. Woodson).

Redshirt freshman tailbacks Branden Ore and George Bell were impressive during the scrimmage. Ore, from Indian River High in Chesapeake, Va., ran seven times for 85 yards and three touchdowns. Bell, from Fayetteville, N.C., ran 11 times for 70 yards.

"Ore had some good runs," Beamer said. "He put the ball on the ground one time, but I thought he showed some quickness through the hole. And I thought George Bell showed some good ability, too."

-- Mark Schlabach


THREE VIE FOR KICKING SPOT: Coach Paul Johnson will decide who will handle the field goal duties this week, with sophomore Joey Bullen holding a slight edge over freshmen Jake Brownel and Matt Harmon to take the place of Geoff Blumenfeld, who graduated last spring.

"I don't think anybody is way ahead," Johnson said. "Joey did better [in Friday's scrimmage], but nobody has been consistent enough for me to say they are the kicker.

-- Jon Gallo


DEFENSE SHINES IN SCRIMMAGE: For the first time in two weeks, the Bison's starting defensive unit was intact, and it was particularly sharp in yesterday's scrimmage, recording four sacks and returning an interception for a score.

The defense, which returns eight starters from a unit that ranked eighth in Division I-AA in total defense, was led by the inside combination of tackles Jesse Hayes (6-3, 330) and Edwin Piner (6-3, 300).

-- From Staff Reports