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Published: Tuesday, 8/28/2007

UT's Opelt to open at QB vs. Purdue

BY MAUREEN FULTON
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Rockets sophomore Aaron Opelt started six games last season. He passed for 875 yards and six touchdowns and rushed for 261 yards and four touchdowns. Rockets sophomore Aaron Opelt started six games last season. He passed for 875 yards and six touchdowns and rushed for 261 yards and four touchdowns.
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University of Toledo coach Tom Amstutz said yesterday sophomore Aaron Opelt will start at quarterback on Saturday.

But Opelt won't be the only UT quarterback to play that night.

Amstutz said yesterday that junior Clint Cochran will also play in the season opener against Purdue at the Glass Bowl.

"Who will play when depends on game situations," Amstutz said. "Our guys are going to be in there long enough to get a rhythm of things. Clint will get in there early in the second quarter and third quarter.

"There's not much difference in either quarterback. They're both capable of running our offense."

Opelt, 6-foot-2, 222 pounds, played in nine games as a true freshman last year, starting six. He passed for 875 yards and six touchdowns and rushed for 261 yards and four TDs.

Opelt said the fact that both quarterbacks will be playing does not put extra pressure on him because he trusts his coaches.

"The coaches will make the best decisions for the team," Opelt said.

"They'll put us in the best situation to win."

Opelt, who played at Fremont Ross, was forced to play when Cochran hurt his knee in the third game of the season.

He took his licks as a freshman but showed a raw ability to make plays.

The Rockets ended the 2006 season with a quarterback-by-committee system.

Cochran started the final game, against Bowling Green, but Opelt split time with him. That was perhaps Opelt's best game, where he rushed for 76 yards and two touchdowns.

"Being out in the game, you get the flow of things," Opelt said. "When you come out here practicing you don't really understand what it's like to be in the game. Playing those nine games last year really helped me for this year."

Opelt Opelt
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Opelt grabbed the No. 1 spot on the depth chart in the spring and was steady through training camp.

"He didn't do anything in practice to give up his job," Amstutz said. "His production level was such that he deserves the No. 1 place right now."

Opelt's arm strength was impressive in fall camp. He also has a much better handle on the offense than last season, as was expected.

"In between plays we talk about perch fishing," Amstutz said of Opelt during a fall practice. "It used to be, 'I don't know what the play is.'•"

But saying Cochran will play Saturday infers that Opelt has not cemented his spot as the season-long starter. Cochran, a 6-3, 212-pounder from Wadsworth, said he had not discussed his role with coaches as of yesterday afternoon, but he will adapt to whatever it is.

"Someone's going to take it and run with it," Cochran said. "I obviously want it to be me, but I'm comfortable with being No. 2."

NOTES: Amstutz said freshman Brett Brodbeck will handle kickoffs. Offensive lineman David Perkins has been cleared academically, and will start practicing with the team this week. "He's a guy that has enough experience that he could get in and help us," Amstutz said.

Contact Maureen Fulton at:

mfulton@theblade.com

or 419-724-6160.


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