The James Madison coaching staff knows it will have to do without starting running back Jamal Sullivan for the next few weeks.
Sullivan suffered a bruised patella on a nasty hit in the third quarter of the Dukes' 24-10 win at Liberty last Saturday. Matthews said Monday that he expected Sullivan to miss two to three weeks.
Sophomores Corwin Acker and Scott Noble are expected to fill the void in the backfield while Sullivan is out.
But if another running back goes down, the Dukes could move starting free
safety Griff Yancey back to offense, Matthews said Tuesday.
"We thought, initially, that Jamal might be hurt a little worse than he really was," Matthews said. "So it's a consideration. We're not going to do it. But we know Griff's a heck of a running back, so we wouldn't hesitate to do that if we needed to."
Another factor is the play of true freshman Jakarie Jackson.
Matthews said Tuesday Jackson is pushing for playing time at free safety, and his emergence is another reason the coaching staff would consider returning Yancey to offense.
Yancey ran for 518 yards and ten touchdowns and added 226 yards and three touchdowns receiving last season. He moved to defensive back last spring to add depth to a position depleted by graduation.
In two starts this season at free safety, Yancey has seven tackles and an interception. He missed JMU's win over VMI earlier this month with a clavicle injury.
Yancey practiced at free safety Tuesday, wearing purple like the rest of his defensive teammates. But another of JMU's top offensive weapons was back in his white practice jersey for the first time this season.
Receiver Bosco Williams had been a bystander since undergoing surgery on his right foot this past July, until Tuesday's return to practice.
Matthews said he expected the coaches to ease Williams back into practice, but the fifth-year senior was anxious to rejoin his teammates.
"You know, you're standing out everyday. You get a little bored, I guess, in practice, watching all the guys," Williams said. "I guess my adrenaline's been pumping a little bit, knowing that I'm getting to come back."
Williams had 16 catches for 229 yards and three scores a season ago, including a memorable 35-yard Hail Mary reception from Rodney Landers that gave JMU a 23-19 come-from-behind win at Villanova.