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Archive for Saturday, August 11, 2007

Rockets roller-coaster riddle

August 11, 2007

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It has come to the point where Kansas University's football seniors are more familiar with Toledo than any Big 12 South team.

With a three-game contract worked up back in 2004, the Jayhawks have played the Rockets in '04, '06 and now, on Sept. 15 at Memorial Stadium.

That's three games against Toledo for players like James McClinton, Cesar Rodriguez and Marcus Henry. Big 12 South teams play Kansas just twice every four years.

The familiarity is there, for sure. But what kind of fight to expect from Toledo? Now that's a roller coaster that no one can figure out.

Kansas crunched UT, 63-14, in '04 in a game that was never in doubt. But last year in Toledo, Ohio, the Rockets fought back and eventually clawed their way to an overtime victory amid a circus of Kansas breakdowns.

It's likely that the '04 Rockets were superior to the '06 version, and last year's Kansas team probably trumped the '04 Jayhawks in terms of talent.

So what does that mean for 2007? Nothing, really.

Toledo, though, does have a couple of weapons returning for the trip to Lawrence this year. Running back Jalen Parmele, who rumbled for the game-winning touchdown last year against KU, returns for his senior season coming off a 1,131-yard junior campaign.

He'll have pressure - Toledo's quarterback situation is in limbo between Clint Cochran, Aaron Opelt and Brandon Summers, with no one dazzling a year ago. Three offensive linemen are gone, as well as standout wide receiver Steve Odom.

But the town of Toledo is excited nonetheless. Barry Church was All-MAC at safety as a freshman, Nigel Morris is a three-year starter at cornerback and Chris Hopkins returns at tight end after catching 54 balls and scoring seven touchdowns a year ago.

There are enough weapons to make Toledo competitive, one year removed from its first losing season since 1993.

"No matter what your last season is like, you want to get back to basics and hard work in the offseason," Toledo coach Tom Amstutz said. "But I will say there's a new intensity. We were not where we wanted to be last year so we are hungry to move forward."

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