DaJuane Collins had started every game this season at running back for the University of Toledo.
But prior to last Saturday's game at Ball State, the coaching staff approached him and let him know they were going to change things up and give sophomore running back Morgan Williams the start in his place against the Cardinals.
"They just wanted to try something different," Collins said. "Coach [Tim Beckman] was telling me, 'Don't be discouraged. You're still our starting back, but we're just trying to find any way we can to put some points on the board and catch the defense off guard.'"
The changeup produced some early results for the Rockets. Williams had four straight carries to start the game, ripping off runs of 6, 6, 7 and 7 yards.
UT didn't stick with its ground assault very much after that, though, as Williams finished with 10 carries for 41 yards.
"I think I did alright," Williams said. "I missed some cuts here and there but I'm getting better as the season goes on. I'm starting to get a better feeling for the offense and getting used to it."
Williams has rushed for 111 yards on 24 carries this season after being suspended for the first two games because of an unspecified violation of team rules that occurred last spring.
He has steadily seen his workload increase since then, something Beckman said should continue to happen as the season goes on.
"He's getting back [up to speed]," Beckman said. "Anytime you're not playing in the first two games, you come back a little rusty. But he's improving every day in practice."
Regarding his suspension, Williams said he has moved on and learned from his mistakes.
"It's something I had to deal with," Williams said. "It was hard to do, but I'm just glad I'm back right now. I'm trying not to look back on it."
As for Collins, Beckman reiterated this week that he is still the Rockets' top option at running back.
Collins entered late in the first quarter against Ball State and carried seven times for 40 yards on the ground in the contest.
The senior leads UT with 400 rushing yards and four touchdowns on 62 carries this season.
Collins said he believes the Rockets are finally beginning to reclaim some of the success that the ground game experienced last year, when he and Williams combined for more than 1,700 rushing yards.
"The only thing is, we have to be more consistent," Collins said. "One week we'll come out and have 200 total yards of rushing and the next week we'll have a 100. We just have to come out strong every week. The offensive line has to do a great job of opening holes for us, and Morgan and I have to do a great job of taking advantage of our opportunities."
VIDEO BOARD UPDATE: The video board at the Glass Bowl has been repaired and should be back online for Saturday night's homecoming game against Western Michigan, according to athletic department spokesman Paul Helgren.
The board was likely struck by lightning during a storm prior to the home-opener against Colorado, necessitating the temporary video screen that was in place in the south end zone for that contest.
FAN REMINDERS: Fans planning to attend UT home games this season are reminded that backpacks and other large-sized carrying items, including coolers, will not be allowed into the Glass Bowl.
Some items that are permitted include hand-held cameras and chairbacks no larger than a single seat.
Normal-sized purses and diaper bags also are allowed but are subject to inspection.
Contact Zach Silka
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