Rockets Set to Start the Season

Toledo's Rockets have gone through the usual summer camp, following a long off-season of winter conditioning and spring drills. After all the long preparation, the season kicks off Saturday night against PAC 10 opponent Arizona, and the Rockets can't wait to get it going.

Toledo's Rockets have gone through the usual summer camp, following a long off-season of winter conditioning and spring drills. After all the long preparation, the season kicks off Saturday night against PAC 10 opponent Arizona, and the Rockets can't wait to get it going. Archie Donald returns at LB after a year off, which he called "tough". Academics in order now, Donald is looking to return to Rocket Football's motto "ATTACK". The defense has focused this summer on swarming to the ball and there is a lot of enthusiasm among the players. Asked what the team is doing to turn the last 2 seasons' records into a winning one this year, Archie replied that they're trying to hold each other up, be intense in practice, but try to make sure nobody gets hurt. As usual, the LBs figure to be the run-stoppers, offering pass support when needed.

Sophomore ORG Kevin Kowalski and Center Buster Garrett are eager to get the season started. After losing 3 starting linemen to graduation, the Rockets' OLine is rebuilding a bit this year. Kowalski said the new players are fitting in well, and "as long as everybody comes together, we'll be just fine." Garrett also gave kudos to the DLine and the improvement they've made this year. To the coaches and players alike, getting ready for the 2008 season has been a team effort. Mistakes haven't been tolerated, and everyone participates in the "corrections". Both linemen gave props to the Arizona football team, Kowalski saying they looked really impressive. Commenting on the number of offensive weapons the Rockets have at their disposal, Buster Garrett said "we're just excited to get to use them. We've been practicing hard and coming together as a unit." Kowalski said "I've been waiting all year for this; we're just excited to get started. After watching everybody play last week, we just can't wait to get started." Asked what they think of the potential for extreme heat, Garrett said he wasn't too worried about it, "I'm from down south, so it'll be just fine. Just have to be mentally tough."

DaJuane Collins echoed the eagerness of the other players Monday, "I'm feeling really good, excited to get out there and mix it up with another team." I did manage to get a little something of a scoop from DaJuane – the wrist injury we read about on internet forums didn't happen, there was no broken wrist. Collins said "there's a story behind that…me and Andrew Hawkins were messing around and he taped up my wrist and we went walking through the student union. A couple hours later, Coach Downing (RB coach) called me and asked me what happened." Collins is very excited by all the depth in the running back game. Stephen Williams is equally excited about the depth at WR. Both players had nothing but praise for the Arizona defense they saw on film, Collins saying "they're big, and they plug the holes really well. It's going to be a nice test of our offensive line early on to see what they can do out there, mixing it up with those big boys. Other than that, I think that if we just play Toledo football, we can give them a great challenge." Williams says their secondary "is good. They're fast, they're smart players, so we have to step it up." Collins expects the receiving corps to help open up the running game, and there has been some work on the deep ball. Asked about all the moves in the depth chart at RB, along with the positions changes to slot receiver for Gordon Warner and Adonis Thomas, Collins said "Coach is trying to get the best 11 guys on the field all the time."

A couple of thoughts as I send this to the webmaster:

The players, to a man, were more relaxed this Monday than I've ever seen them. They seemed focused, eager, they laughed and joked with each other, Nick Moore mugged for the camera with DaJuane Collins. If these young men are having pre-game jitters, it did not show. They simply seem ready to finally get the season going.

There was an Internet rumor posted a few days ago, followed by a blog post from Maurine Fulton of the Blade, about some players not playing this week, naming no names. Naturally speculation popped up and as of Friday night, there is still no official announcement. It is possible that some of the people interviewed for this piece may not play, but there is no way to know for sure at this time.



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