Rockets Open Camp August 6th

Football season is here. The Rockets open football camp on Wednesday, August 6th with all players reporting. The first practice will be on Thursday, August 7th. That give the Rockets a month to prepare for the season opener at Arizona on September 6th.

Football season is here. The Rockets open football camp on Wednesday, August 6th with all players reporting. The first practice will be on Thursday, August 7th.

That give the Rockets a month to prepare for the season opener at Arizona on September 6th.

With the departure of last year's offensive coordinator, John Shannon, there are a few changes in the coaching staff on offense. Chris Hedden will continue to coach receivers, but has also taken over as offensive coordinator for Toledo.

Ken Karcher joined the Rocket staff this year and has taken over as quarterbacks coach. And with the departure of Joe Gilbert, former Rocket player Vince Marrow has returned to Toledo to be the new tight end coach for the Rockets.

The addition of Coach Karcher should help junior QB Aaron Opelt tremendously. Karcher has an impressive resume, which boasts 16 years of experience as either a head coach, offensive coordinator, or quarterbacks coach. Karcher spent six seasons as the head coach of the Liberty Flames. Before that he spent one year as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach of the Orlando Thunder of the Arena Football League, four years as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at the University of Pittsburgh, and four years as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for the Rhein Fire of NFL Europe.

Karcher was a quarterback for the Denver Broncos for a while, including John Elway's backup in Super Bowl XXII.

Most recently he was athletic director, offensive coordinator, and quarterbacks coach at Fellowship Christian High School in Roswell, GA for the past two seasons.

Between Karcher and Hedden now taking over as the OC, expect Toledo's passing game to be even more dangerous this fall.

The offense in general is loaded with experience and talent. Aaron Opelt enters his third season as the quarterback. Junior Stephen Williams and senior Nick Moore provided one of the best wide receiver duo's in the MAC for Opelt to throw to.

Senior tight end John Allen provides a lot of experience as well. He has the benefit of playing for new tight ends coach Vince Marrow. Marrow coached tackles and tight ends for two different teams in NFL Europe for three seasons before coming to Toledo.

He is a former Rocket tight end, who was drafted by the Buffalo Bills in the 11th round of the 1992 NFL Draft. He played in the NFL for five teams from 1992 through 1998.

The offensive line will have Jared Dewalt starting for the third consecutive season, with 2nd year starters Buster Garrett and Kevin Kowalski as well. Jan Gewont was slated to start last season before having a season ending injury, and he will make a difference this fall as well. Patrick Dawson and Chris Meenan also provide experienced depth on the offensive line.

Running behind that line will be junior DaJuane Collins, who will finally get the chance to be the featured back at Toledo. He's poised to have a great season. Last season he had a better yards per rush average than Jalen Parmele, who is now with the Miami Dolphins.

Sophomore Gordon Warner looks to be DaJuane's backup at running back. Gordon showed his speed last season in limited playing time. However, be on the lookout for #23. That is Morgan Williams. The two-time Ohio High School Division I Player of the Year is eligible to play for the Rockets and should make an impact right away as a redshirt freshman in 2008.

Defensively the Rockets lost cornerbacks coach Richard McNutt to the NFL. They have replaced him with Greg Lupfer, who will coach the safeties. Andy Boyd has moved from safeties coach to cornerbacks coach.

Lupfer coached at Portland State for 12 seasons, including seven years as the defensive coordinator. He coached safeties and special teams at Portland State before being named the defensive coordinator.

The safeties could be the bread and butter of the defense with junior Barry Church, senior Tyrrell Herbert, and junior Lester Richmond. Cornerbacks will get a huge shot in the arm with the return of Desmond Marrow, who missed all of last season with an injury. Junior Walter Atkins also provides a lot of experience, and sophomore Myshan Pettis got better and better as the season went on last year. Sophomore Greg Harris provides experience and talent to the cornerback position.

Linebackers have a big void filled with the return of Archie Donald. Donald was not eligible to participate in games last season, after having a very good freshman year in 2006. Senior Keith Forestal and junior Derrick Summers will see a lot of playing time, while junior Beau Brudzinski will provide experience and quality depth.

The defensive line had a lot of trouble getting to the quarterback last year, but this year could be different. Look for some changes in schemes on the line, plus some returning players and new additions, to strengthen this group.

Senior Sean Williamson returns after missing most of last season with an injury. Also, sophomore Doug Westbrook returns after missing most of last season. Both players played very well in 2006.

Sophomore Terrell Willis has moved from linebacker, down to defensive end to help bring speed to the group. Also, the Rockets went out and got a JUCO All-American known for his pass rush abilities in Albertson Alexandre.

Maurice Hill, Sylaar Constant, Al Martin, and Joe Underwood provide experience and depth to the defensive tackle positions for the Rockets.

Word is that the defensive line is much faster and more aggressive this year.

The MAC News Media Association picked the Rockets for 4th place in the MAC West Division this year, but the Rockets clearly have the talent to contend for the division title if they can put it all together.

All eyes will be on September 6th in Tucson, AZ when the Rockets open the season against the Arizona Wildcats. And don't forget Toledo's home opener is September 20th against the Fresno State Bulldogs.



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