Thursday, Oct 27, 2016
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Bolden's back improves; he'll start Friday

University of Toledo senior quarterback Tavares Bolden was a late scratch from Friday night's game at Bowling Green game because of back spasms.

But Bolden returned to practice last night for the first time in more than a week after team physician Roger Kruse gave him medical clearance following an examination.

UT coach Tom Amstutz said after his team's two-hour practice session that Bolden would start in Friday's Mid-American Conference championship game against No. 20 Marshall at 7:30 p.m. in the Glass Bowl

“Tavares is ready, he will play,” Amstutz said.

Bolden, who has won 18 of his last 20 starts, only practiced sparingly last night, but was particularly sharp and showed good mobility during the Rockets' seven-on-seven non-contact drills. He fired a 35-yard completion over the middle to receiver Donta Greene, then tossed a 60-yard scoring strike to Manny Johnson.

“I felt good,” Bolden said. “I just wanted to get a couple of throws in and get back to throwing the ball a little bit.”

“Our plan was to get him some partial work tonight, and to work on his timing,” Amstutz said. “He did a good job. He looked good. He was throwing the ball well. He looked better tonight than he has on most Sundays.”

Amstutz declined to discuss the nature of Bolden's injury after UT's 56-21 loss to Bowling Green at Perry Stadium. But Bolden admitted he was suffering from back spasms as he walked off the field in street clothes.

Amstutz confirmed Bolden's injury for the first time last night, and added that Bolden had an MRI performed before the BG game to determine the extent of his injury.

“We didn't know if it was a serious thing or just back spasms,” Amstutz said. “This is not the first time this year his back has bothered him. The MRI results, though, just showed it was back spasms. It was not a serious injury. It was not a disc problem.”

Junior college transfer Brian Jones started in place of Bolden against the rival Falcons. He completed 14 of 28 passes for 180 yards and three touchdowns, but he also threw two interceptions and was sacked three times.

Jones ran with the first-team offense in practice last night. His backup was sophomore Keon Frazier, who has not completed a pass since spring drills.

Barring a last minute flare-up with his back, Bolden will start against the Thundering Herd, who have won 10 straight games after opening the season with a 49-14 loss to Florida.

UT, meanwhile, has won 13 straight home games.

“It's not anything to worry about,” Bolden said of his back. “I am going to play. It feels real good. I am excited. I will finally get a chance to play in the MAC Championship game. And being that it's Marshall makes it all that much better.”

Bolden, 6-1 and 205 pounds, had started 27 straight games, winning 22, before being held out against Bowling Green.

Prior to that, he arguably had been UT's MVP the first nine games, hitting on 162 of 238 pass attempts for a completion rate of 68.1 percent. He had thrown for 12 touchdowns, ran for three more and also caught a touchdown pass. He had been intercepted just five times and sacked seven times.

Bolden's pass efficiency rating of 184.5 ranked 14th in the nation. The all-time school record is 137.8, set by Gene Swick in 1975.

Marshall has its own outstanding quarterback in 6-6, 240-pound junior Byron Leftwich.

He has completed 283 of 418 passes (67.7 percent) for 3,711 yards and 34 touchdowns, 18 of which have gone to receiver Darius Watts, who has 82 receptions for 1,316 yards.

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