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Published: Saturday, 9/6/2008

Rockets, Amstutz antsy following bye

BY MAUREEN FULTON
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

TUCSON One hundred thirteen Division I-A head football coaches have the envy of Tom Amstutz. The University of Toledo s eighth-year coach wishes his team, like theirs, already had played a game in 2008.

A quirk in the Rockets schedule this year is that they have a bye in the first week of the season. Purdue, Notre Dame, Florida State, Tulane and New Mexico also took the first week off.

Arizona, tonight s opponent, certainly wasn t off, winning its season opener against Idaho in dominating fashion.

Although the Rockets will have some green players out on the field tonight at Arizona Stadium (10 p.m.), Amstutz hopes the experience he does have coming back will override that.

Coaches always talk about the improvement you made from your first game to your second game, Amstutz said. Arizona gets to have that. They re going to have a more confident team and a team that steps out there a little more sure of what they re going to do. We re going to still have a lot of the first-game unknowns.

It s going to be really important for us to rely on the players that are back and playing and we re asking a lot of new guys in new positions to step up and play right away.

The Rockets were able to acquire the Arizona game film despite not having one to return. Arizona Mike Stoops said his team gave UT the tape because, That s just kind of how it works anymore. We ve got enough issues, we don t need to be fighting over tapes.

One of the new faces on defense for the Rockets, sophomore cornerback Desmond Marrow sees the bright side of the Wildcats already playing a game and UT not.

We have the film on them. We re one up, Marrow said. We have a lot of players back that didn t play last year and they don t really have much film on them either.

The Wildcats didn t make many mistakes that the Rockets could potentially exploit upon viewing the tape of Arizona s 70-0 victory. However, Arizona has all new personnel on defense so UT was able to get a look at that.

Stoops said he believes UT won t change much from what it did last year and therefore the advantage is on the Wildcats side.

I like having a game, Stoops said. They could be doing stuff that we have no idea, that would be the only advantage.

We watched 12 games. I don t think they re going to change what they do. They re successful at what they do. They have players. So I don t see them changing. I think working out all the kinks is good that first game. I think working out some things will hopefully help us.

UT quarterback Aaron Opelt said the Rockets can t let the game differential matter one way or another.

I think the biggest thing we need to focus on is, we know we re a good team, Opelt said, and we need to play like that.

Contact Maureen Fulton at:mfulton@theblade.comor 419-724-6160.



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