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Toledo football gets back to the grind

08/05/2016, 12:06am EDT
By By BRIAN BUCKEY BLADE SPORTS WRITER

Rockets begin fall camp with high expectations

Toledo football gets back to the grind

The University of Toledo football team begins its first practice of fall camp Thursday. The Rockets were picked to finish second in the Mid-American Conference West Division behind Western Michigan. BLADE/JEREMY WADSWORTH

After a spring practice schedule and a long summer of workouts and conditioning, University of Toledo football players and coaches are ready to get back to action.

Thursday was the first practice of fall camp, a split session with one group of players in the morning and one group in the afternoon.

“We’re certainly excited to be out here,” first-year Toledo head coach Jason Candle said. “It’s time. July is done and all the winter workouts, spring practice, and summer is in the books and we’re ready to turn the page and start our season.”

The season begins with high expectations for Toledo, which was picked to finish second in the Mid-American Conference West Division behind Western Michigan.

“I’m feeling pretty confident about the group of guys we have coming up this year,” senior running back Kareem Hunt said at MAC media day last Thursday. “We have a lot of guys who played young last year, so we have a lot of experience. I’m excited and the season is about to go by quick, so I can’t wait.”

The first day of camp gives the coaching staff a glimpse into the future and gives them a chance to assess new players for the first time.

“This is a big time for us to evaluate new players and the new faces we have in our program and just see where they are at,” Candle said. “We graduated 19 great seniors last year who put a stamp on our program and I’m anxious to see who is going to replace those guys.”

Candle said a big part of spring practice this season was building relationships between new coaches and players, something that will pay off this fall.

“It’s new faces from a coaching staff just being around and building new relationships and trying to gain trust of players, whether that is a coach-to-coach relationship or a coach-to-player relationship,” Candle said. “I think that is ultimately going to carry us through tough times. I think we got a great start to that and certainly this August will be crucial for that too.

“We want to see great attitude, great effort, and attention to detail,” he added. “We want to see guys being coached well and doing the little things right that will make you good in the end of it.”

With new coordinators on the offensive and defensive side of the ball, fall camp could be crucial to the units bonding and learning to play with each other.

“As a team we just need to work on our communication, everybody knowing their assignment and knowing what they should be doing,” senior safety DeJuan Rogers said at MAC media day. “If everybody is on the same page, then we are going to be a good defense.”

For the players, a lot of the off-season work is done and it’s time get back on the field.

“We’ve been doing a lot of conditioning and running, but now it’s about time to play some football,” Hunt said.

“I’m excited for camp,” Rogers added. “The summer is all working out and running and it gets old after a while. I’m ready to get out there and get the pads on and get ready to chase this MAC championship.”

Contact Brian Buckey at: bbuckey@theblade.com or 419-724-6110.

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Tag(s): College  Toledo