Vick Says He Needs To Practice

Tuesday, October 31st 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ A decision on whether to play Michael Vick against No. 3 Miami on Saturday might be delayed until just before kickoff. Vick thinks he'll know long before then if he'll start.

The Virginia Tech quarterback, who sprained his right ankle against Pittsburgh last weekend and is hobbling around on crutches, unable to put weight on his foot, said Monday that his ankle is improving, but that he thinks he'll have to practice by Wednesday to start.

``I think by Wednesday, I'm going to have to start getting some reps in practice. You can't go a whole week without practicing,'' he said in a conference call.

Earlier, coach Frank Beamer said Vick's availability could be a game-time decision, even if the sophomore doesn't get any reps in practice all week. Beamer also said he won't risk further injury to his star quarterback, big game or no big game.

``Whether it's Michael or anyone else, we're not going to put them out there if the doctors feel like there's any chance of them not being able to perform and perform well without chance of further injury,'' he said on the Big East coaches' conference call.

Vick agreed that he has his own future in football to consider, and added, ``I won't do anything to put this team in jeopardy or hurt this football team.''

The ankle, injured late in the first half in a pile of bodies, is not very swollen and is starting to feel better, he said. The sprain is on the lower part of his ankle and not nearly as bad as a high ankle sprain that caused him to miss a game last season.

Miami coach Butch Davis, who on Sunday questioned whether Vick really was hurt enough to miss the long-awaited showdown, declined to speculate more on Monday.

``The only thing that we have any access to is the things that were reported after the game where he was quoted as saying, 'It's not that severe, I'll be fine.' Other than that, I don't have anything to go on,'' Davis said.

Even if Vick can't play, Davis said, the Hurricanes will face a good quarterback. Dave Meyer was 7-of-13 to lead the Hokies' comeback over the Panthers.

``He's been in their system for four or five years, so he probably knows the offense every bit as much,'' Davis said of the fifth-year senior. ``How much they change it or alter it, I don't have any idea. They didn't when he came in to play the other day.''

For the second time this season, Miami is preparing for a highly ranked opponent whose star quarterback is hobbled by an ankle injury. Florida State's Chris Weinke was questionable all week, but played the whole game in Miami's 27-24 comeback victory.

The situation is similar, but also a whole lot different, Beamer said.

``With Weinke, his mobility probably wasn't a great concrn for Florida State, but with Michael, that's part of who we are, too,'' Beamer said, because Vick's game is speed.

The Hokies, ranked second in both polls and the Bowl Championship Series standings behind Oklahoma, figure to face their toughest test of the season at Miami, No. 5 in the BCS.

And the Hurricanes, losers of five straight to the Hokies, hope to see Vick.

``My teammates, just as much as I do, want to see Michael Vick play,'' Miami defensive back Markese Fitzgerald said. ``We don't want people down the road _ fans and BCS people _ saying we didn't face a complete Virginia Tech team.''