One point has been the difference in two games this year for the University of Toledo football team. If the Rockets had been on the other side of those games at the Glass Bowl, their season would have a vastly different outlook right now.
Instead, UT is 2-6 and its best hope is to finish with a .500 record. It's all but officially decided that for the third straight year, the Rockets won't go to a bowl game and won't have a winning season. Coach Tom Amstutz and UT players said yesterday despite the disappointment of the losses to Central Michigan and Fresno State, each by one point, their passion to win hasn't been stunted.
"You look and see one point is the difference between winning and losing and you look for those ways you can get that one point, that one extra play you can make," Amstutz said. "We have to find it and stay focused on it. We're close but we've got to take it the whole way."
With four games left on its schedule, UT doesn't plan on rolling over for the teams that are still in the thick of the conference race. That includes Akron, the Rockets' next opponent on Nov. 5. The Zips (4-4) are leading the Mid-American Conference East division at 2-2.
"We're going to ride this thing out, we're going to ride it out as a team until the wheels fall off, regardless of what happens the rest of the season," defensive tackle Skylaar Constant said. "We're going to see it through. No sense of giving up now."
Junior rover Lester Richmond said UT needs to work on finishing a game strong.
"We know we have more talent than half the teams we play, we have good players," Richmond said. "We can't play good one half and then come out the next half a little dry. It's tough coming out every week knowing you're good enough and falling short. The leadership has to step up a lot more, which I think it has the last few weeks."
Amstutz has always said he keeps his mindset steady throughout a season, whether UT has a big win or suffers an embarrassing loss. He thinks the players are following his lead, based on the events in the month of October.
UT got shut out by Ball State and then beat Michigan the next week. The Rockets played poorly in a defeat to Northern Illinois, then nearly upset Central Michigan last Saturday.
"It shows the players are still there, they still believe and they're still giving great effort," Amstutz said.
RICHMOND NEW CAPTAIN: Richmond will serve as a team captain for the rest of the season after Sean Williamson, formerly a captain, was suspended last week. Richmond participated in the coin toss last weekend against Central Michigan.
"It felt good, I liked taking a role and helping my team out," Richmond said. "It shows they have faith in me."
EXTRA POINTS: Sophomore cornerback Desmond Marrow is out for the season after injuring his knee in the Northern Illinois game. Marrow will have surgery next week. ... With 1 1/2 weeks between games, the Rockets will take today and tomorrow off from practice and start their regular schedule on Thursday. "It gives us time to get our bodies and minds refreshed," senior John Allen said. ... Amstutz said wide receiver Robin Bailey, who missed Saturday's game with an injury, has "minor soreness" and "he'll be back soon."
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