The University of Toledo football team isn't getting a free pass from the injury gods this season.
Heading into today's 6 p.m. game with Kansas University at Memorial Stadium, the Rockets are ravaged with aches and pains, particularly on defense.
"We're a work in progress," Toledo coach Tom Amstutz said. "We're going to need to get a few of our injured players back to be a lot stronger of a team."
Among those missing are three seniors, all thought to be All-Mid American Conference candidates and all prominently displayed on the back cover of the Rockets' media guide. Defensive end Sean Williamson had 47 tackles last season, free safety Tyrrell Herbert had three interceptions, and cornerback Nigel Morris 45 tackles and seven passes defended.
None traveled with the team to Central Michigan last week, where the Rockets lost, 52-21. To make matters worse, Morris' replacement, Greg Harris, injured his leg against CMU and didn't return. He's not on this week's depth chart.
There's also the loss of an offensive player, right guard Jan Gewont, who was hurt in the season opener and is out for the season.
Defensively, Toledo didn't need all the setbacks. Though the status for all three of the seniors is uncertain for today's game, none is on the current depth chart. All are replaced by a freshman or sophomore.
Without them, it has been a struggle. Toledo has given up 475 yards per game and 6.8 yards per play in its first two contests, both high-scoring losses to Purdue and Central Michigan. The Rockets have no quarterback sacks and have given up scores 10 out of 11 times the opponent has been in the red zone. Nine were touchdowns.
Regardless, the Rockets have KU's attention heading into today's game - especially after Toledo beat Kansas, 37-31, in two overtimes a year ago thanks to the play of young players like strong safety Barry Church.
"They have some new kids, but they have a lot of the same kids they had last year, too," KU coach Mark Mangino said. "They're big and physical up front on the defensive line. They're working some younger kids on the secondary. They're similar to what they were last year."