For the University of Toledo's first Mid-American Conference game, the Rockets' All-MAC defensive player has issued a challenge - to himself.
Sophomore Barry Church said this week he felt like he "let the defense down" against Purdue. To make up for it, he vowed to step up his play tomorrow against the defending MAC champ, Central Michigan.
"I didn't make the kind of plays I thought I should," Church said. "This week I'm going to try to do everything I can. I'm going to be looking to make a lot of plays."
Church, a 6-foot-2, 212-pound safety from Pittsburgh, had three tackles against the Boilermakers. Purdue tested Church early, but by the end of the game was mostly running the ball - away from him.
Both teams are 0-1 going into the Chippewas' 7 p.m. home opener at Kelly/Shorts Stadium. CMU coach Butch Jones is trying to get his first career win.
Church said the Rockets have bad memories of the 42-20 loss to CMU last year at the Glass Bowl. UT had a 14-0 lead, but the Chippewas scored 42 unanswered points before the Rockets added a late TD. UT had four turnovers.
"It was Homecoming, and they came in our house and they kind of ran it up on us a little bit," Church said. "Our team is ready for revenge and ready to come out and play our hardest."
Tight end Chris Hopkins also remembers the 2005 defeat to CMU, when the Rockets lost their first league game of the year. Before that, UT had a 10-game win streak over the Chippewas.
"If there's one game I want to be ready for, it's Central Michigan," Hopkins said. "I have a serious chip on my shoulder. I want to catch all the balls that come my way and do whatever I can do to help."
CMU lost three linemen - two offensive, one defensive - to the NFL last season. But sophomore quarterback Dan LeFevour, running back Ontario Sneed and wide receiver Bryan Anderson all return from last year's MAC championship team.
"A lot of their skill players are back from last year," UT coach Tom Amstutz said. "They have a few new linemen, just like our team. The team that can refocus and correct its errors and get ready to play at a high level is going to be the team that wins."
Although the first game ended badly for the Rockets, CMU's opener was ugly from the start. In the Chippewas' 52-7 loss at Kansas, they were down 35-0 in the second quarter.
"We're both in the same situation right now," safety Lester Richmond said. "But it doesn't take us much to get back on the horse and keep fighting."
Contact Maureen Fulton at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6160.