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Published: Saturday, 10/28/2006

UT's running game gaining momentum for Akron

Toledo's Jalen Parmele. Toledo's Jalen Parmele.

It hasn't been enough to win, but the University of Toledo's running attack has been encouraging over the last three games.

The Rockets are averaging 150.3 yards per game and 3.89 yards per carry over that span.

Those aren't whopping numbers, but both are higher than UT's season averages of 128 yards per game and 3.6 yards per rush.

With UT's offense struggling - the Rockets have scored just 57 points in four Mid-American Conference games, all losses - the running backs will have to keep stepping up for the Rockets to compete against Akron tonight at 7 in the Glass Bowl.

"We've been playing for two years, so we have the experience," said sophomore back Richard Davis. "We have young quarterbacks, so it's up to us to lead the offense. If we run well, then it opens up some other stuff and that will help the quarterbacks."

The Rockets are averaging 200 yards per game passing, but the committee of quarterbacks has almost as many interceptions (10) as touchdown passes (11).

"With our situation, youth-wise, we need to stick to basic plays that we can execute well," UT coach Tom Amstutz said. "I think we have a corps of running backs who are working very hard and have some ability. We certainly need them to do their share."

In last Saturday's 17-13 loss at Eastern Michigan, UT (2-6, 0-4) ran the ball 37 times for 175 yards.

"I was encouraged," Amstutz said. "The line blocked hard and our backs ran with some determination."

Jalen Parmele carried 17 times for 99 yards against EMU. He has 558 yards on the season, is averaging 5.1 yards per carry and has scored five touchdowns.

"We have to keep it up," said Parmele, a junior. "The right side of the line has battled injuries, but those guys have had some good games lately. The tight ends are blocking well too. So I think we're making progress."

Davis has 196 yards and three touchdowns rushing while redshirt freshman DaJuane Collins is averaging 6.5 yards per carry.

"We have three different guys with three different styles, so it can make things tough on a defense," Parmele said. "I'm pretty much a power runner. I like to get vertical and run downhill. Richard is quick and more move-oriented. He likes to make tacklers miss. DaJuane is a mixture of the two styles.

"Defenses have to adjust from tackling high or low, from having speed or power coming at them."

Plus, added Davis, "We're always able to have a fresh back in the game."

Akron's running game has been even more meager than Toledo's, although the Zips (3-4, 1-2) got a boost last weekend while posting their first MAC win over Miami.

Dennis Kennedy posted season highs with 31 carries for 129 yards and two touchdowns. He has 458 rushing yards on the season, but the Zips are still averaging just 78.4 yards per game and 2.6 yards per carry.

Akron swept MAC East Division player of the week honors after beating Miami 24-13. Kennedy took the offensive award while defensive back Davanzo Tate was tops on his side of the ball with seven solo tackles and four pass break-ups.

Contact Dave Hackenberg at:


or 419-724-6398

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