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Published: Tuesday, 9/15/2009

Explosive University of Toledo gets more help

BY ZACH SILKA
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

Barring any setbacks, the University of Toledo will have two more weapons — and Williamses — at its disposal this weekend in its intrastate battle with Ohio State at Cleveland Browns Stadium.

After playing sparingly Friday against Colorado, senior wide receiver Stephen Williams said yesterday he is “90 percent” recovered from a right shoulder injury suffered two weeks ago against Purdue.

Sophomore running back Morgan Williams, of no relation, who rushed for 1,010 yards last season, will be back as well after being suspended for the season's first two games due to an unspecified violation of team rules.

The Rockets didn't skip a beat against Colorado, though, as senior quarterback Aaron Opelt threw for 319 yards and four touchdowns and ran for 109 yards and two scores.

Freshman wideout Eric Page finished with a team-best 138 receiving yards, and sophomore tight end Danny Noble caught a career-high five passes in place of Stephen Williams against the Buffaloes.

“It's surprising,” Opelt said. “We definitely missed Steve, but I think the younger guys and some of the backups stepped up and made big plays for us.”

Stephen Williams said his shoulder injury occurred on his last catch against the Boilermakers with about 1:30 to play when a defensive lineman fell on top of him, causing him to land awkwardly.

He didn't practice much leading up to the Colorado game while the injury healed and still didn't feel very comfortable when he finally stepped on the field during UT's second possession at the Glass Bowl. Stephen Williams had just one ball thrown his way in limited action and finished with zero catches.

“We have a little deal here where if you don't practice on Wednesday, then you're probably not going to play very much during the game or start,” Beckman said. “He just didn't feel comfortable because he didn't practice enough last week, [but] he'll be back. Steve will be back. He'll be playing on Saturday.”

With his shoulder getting better by the day, Stephen Williams participated fully in practice Sunday for the first time in more than a week.

“It's a lot better now,” Stephen Williams said. “I'll definitely be ready to go by Saturday. Resting during the Colorado game gave me a break from taking any more beatings on [my shoulder] and gave it a chance to heal.”

The Rockets' rushing attack should be bolstered by the return of another Williams.

Senior running back DaJuane Collins, who split time with Morgan Williams last year, has virtually been the lone workhorse with Morgan Williams on the shelf. Against Colorado he had 160 rushing yards on 20 carries with one touchdown.

In all, Collins has rushed 29 times this season and has more than four times as many carries as sophomore Jake Walker (seven).

“It'll be good to get another back in there with a lot of experience and who can run the ball well,” Collins said. “When I need a breather, we can get him in there and we won't miss a beat. He can break a long one and keep our offense rolling.”

How quickly Morgan Williams works himself back into game shape this week in practice should dictate how many carries he sees against the Buckeyes.

“It'll be good to see Morgan back,” Beckman said. “He's done a great job for these two weeks that he's been out, making us a better team [in practice]. We'll be happy to have him back.”

Contact Zach Silka at:zsilka@theblade.com.



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