-- Virginia football fans had to wait nearly a month to see all-American Ahmad Brooks play this season, and now Cavaliers Coach Al Groh isn't sure if the junior inside linebacker will play in Saturday's game at Boston College.
Brooks, who missed the Cavaliers' first three games while recovering from surgery in January to regenerate bone growth in his right knee, sprained his ankle in last Saturday's 45-33 loss at Maryland. Groh acknowledged Tuesday that Brooks (Hylton High) didn't practice Monday and was questionable to play against the No. 18 Eagles at Alumni Stadium.
The ankle "is an issue at present," Groh said.
Groh compared Brooks's dilemma to that of Boston Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling, who tore an ankle tendon last season and started this season at Class AAA Pawtucket.
"We don't have Pawtucket," Groh said. "There's a lot of catching up to do with Ahmad's game, things he hasn't done since August 5 to polish and improve his game."
Groh said Brooks played about 35 plays against the Terrapins, and "it would be unrealistic to think he could go beyond that" against Boston College because of his conditioning. Brooks had two tackles and one quarterback pressure against the Terps.
Brooks, a finalist for the 2004 Butkus Award as college football's best linebacker, was forced to play outside linebacker against Maryland because sophomore Jermaine Dias was out with a sprained foot. Dias isn't expected to play at Boston College, either.
Dias, who along with redshirt freshman Clint Sintim, replaced outside linebackers Darryl Blackstock and Dennis Haley, could be sidelined for a few weeks. Groh compared Dias's sprained foot to the injury that kept tailback Wali Lundy sidelined for most of three games.
Linemen Ailing, Too
Left tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson and center Brian Barthelmes are also questionable to play at Boston College. Both linemen missed the Maryland game because of knee and ankle injuries, respectively. Ferguson, a senior from Freeport, N.Y., and an all-American candidate, had started 42 games in a row.
Groh said a decision about the linemen's availability probably wouldn't be made until later in the week.
"I couldn't say that right now," Groh said, when asked if Ferguson and Barthelmes would play at Boston College. "Whatever week it is they come back, I would expect it will go right to the end."
The linemen's absence forced the Cavaliers to shuffle their line against Maryland. Right tackle Brad Butler moved to the left side, and sophomore Eddie Pingis started at right tackle for the first time. Jordan Lipsey, an undersized sophomore at 268 pounds, made his first start at center. The line struggled against the Terps, allowing seven sacks.
Not Feeling the Stone Age
Groh said his wife, Anne, is holding a ticket for him to attend Thursday night's Rolling Stones concert at Scott Stadium. But Groh, a classic rock fan, said he isn't particularly in the mood to see Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and the rest of the Stones.
"I don't know that my mood is a Rolling Stones mood right now," Groh said. "It would be kind of a shame to miss, though."
Eagle Has a Bad Limb
Boston College quarterback Quinton Porter, who hasn't played in the last two games because of a sprained ankle, still doesn't have great mobility and is questionable to play against the Cavaliers, Eagles Coach Tom O'Brien said. Backup Matt Ryan has played very well the last two games, completing 45 of 71 passes for 427 yards, two interceptions and one touchdown and running for three scores.