ACC: Wake Forest's Rinfrette embracing goal-line role

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) - Mike Rinfrette finally has a home.

The fifth-year senior started his career at Wake Forest as a backup fullback before switching to linebacker as a sophomore, then went back to fullback and started 11 games. He seemed due for another position switch for his final year, but he instead got to stay at fullback and is now thriving with a goal-line closer role.

"It's fun getting the ball down there because there's a good chance you're going to get to the end zone," Rinfrette said.

Rinfrette had three touchdowns in his first two seasons with the offense, but he has a score in each of the Demon Deacons' three games this year. The TD carries have gone for 1, 2 and 3 yards, but the thrill is the same as breaking off a long run.

Coach Jim Grobe said Rinfrette is benefiting from the team's decision to get the fullback more involved after starting last year relying on the arm of quarterback Riley Skinner.

"The biggest thing is you've got to smell the end zone," Rinfrette said. "You've got to know you'll do whatever it takes to get there. The big thing is the offensive line. So far I've had a chance at the goal line and we've always come through and I can trust those guys. I know they're going to make a hole for me."


LAKE ATLANTA: The widespread flooding in Georgia this week hit home for Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson.

The torrential downpours forced the Yellow Jackets to practice in the Georgia Dome on Monday. When they left, they were surprised to find the weather conditions were even more severe.

"You're kind of in that bunker mentality and you're locked down and you're working," Johnson said. "I know when I started to go home last night, my wife called and said you can't get home. The road is blocked. It never occurred to me that would happen. Then when you get there ... it looks like a lake."

Johnson said his home in north Atlanta was safe, but some roads near his home were blocked.

"I just parked somewhere else and walked (home)," he said. "I had to walk down a hill through some woods."


SCRAPPING THE SPREAD: An 0-2 start was enough to convince embattled Virginia coach Al Groh to that its new spread offense wasn't working.

At Southern Mississippi last weekend, Virginia went back to something that more closely resembles their offense of previous years with some elements of the spread still included. The Cavaliers adapted quickly, at one point leading 27-10 before the Golden Eagles rallied for a 37-34 victory.

The Cavaliers have a bye this week, which would seem to be a better time to make wholesale changes, but Groh didn't think they could afford to wait.

"We had a game to play before the bye week," he said.


I'M PLAYING WHO?: Clemson coach Dabo Swinney could've thought of several different choices rather than No. 15 TCU for filling a hole in the Tigers schedule.

The Tigers were to conclude a series with Central Michigan, but allowed the Chippewas to back out if they helped secure a replacement. Clemson had talked with Idaho of the Western Athletic Conference before agreeing to face the Horned Frogs.

Swinney recalls when Clemson athletic director Terry Don Phillips called him into the office last winter about the fall schedule. He preferred to bring a Bowl Subdivision team into Death Valley and figured he'd have a nice selection of willing opponents.

Instead he was told there was only one in TCU, which finished last season ranked No. 7 in the final AP poll.

"I thought 'Holy smokes, number seven in the country,"' Swinney said. "You'd think out of 120 (FBS teams), there'd be someone in the 60s out there, the 80s, 39?"

The Horned Frogs will get a $1 million guarantee for the one-time trip.


PAJAMA PARTY?: A year ago, former Nebraska coach and current athletic director Tom Osborne wrote Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer to congratulate him for the Hokies' 35-30 road win and apologize that he never got a chance to say hello.

Beamer wanted to be sure he and Osborne connected when the Cornhuskers played at Lane Stadium last weekend, and it almost happened in the middle of the night in pajamas.

Osborne was staying at the same hotel as the Hokies that Friday night when a 1:30 a.m. fire alarm sent all the guests to the parking lot. Beamer said he spotted Osborne outside, but waited on his delayed hello until Saturday.

"I said, 'You know, I can find a better time to go say hello to Coach Osborne than right now,"' Beamer said, "so when they said we could go back in, we went on back in."


SHARING THE CHIN: Whenever teams from Raleigh and Pittsburgh get together, the question always pops up: Who will Bill Cowher root for?

The former Super Bowl-winning Steelers coach and native of the Pittsburgh area played linebacker at North Carolina State and has a house in Raleigh. He made waves four months ago when he showed up at Carolina Hurricanes practices and sounded a pre-game siren when they were facing the Pittsburgh Penguins in the NHL's Eastern Conference final.

No word yet on whether Cowher will show up at Carter-Finley Stadium on Saturday when his alma mater plays host to the Pitt Panthers.


AP Sports Writers Charles Odum in Atlanta; Hank Kurz in Charlottesville, Va., and Blacksburg, Va; Pete Iacobelli in Clemson, S.C.; and Joedy McCreary in Raleigh, N.C., contributed to this report.


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