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UT Notebook: Claus fills many kicking roles


Wyoming running back Alvester Alexander is met by a wall of Rocket defenders in Saturday night game at the Glass Bowl. Toledo drops 3-2, while the Cowboys are 2-3.

The Blade/Andy Morrison
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Bill Claus has taken the road less traveled in his career at the University of Toledo, but the jury's still out if he'll ever arrive.

The junior joined the Rockets as a walk-on punter in 2008 after a successful career at St. John's Jesuit and soon received the starting nod as a freshman.

Claus was benched midway through last season by rookie coach Tim Beckman, then won back the starting spot this year in preseason camp after being awarded a scholarship in the offseason. He was again benched in the season-opener against Arizona, but has traded the punting duties back and forth with redshirt freshman Vince Penza since then.

Saturday night against Wyoming, Claus' tenure took another odd turn when he handled kickoffs and place-kicking after junior Ryan Casano suffered a torn ACL in practice earlier in the week.

In his first field goal attempt since high school, Claus missed a 33-yarder wide left with 4:26 left in the second quarter.

Claus showed fairly decent accuracy but lacked much distance on his field goal attempts during pregame warm-ups last night. He did not kick using a tee, instead using snapper Colin McHugh and holder Penza on every practice attempt.

Claus had handled the holder duties this season before Casano was injured.

Penza was the starting punter Saturday night in place of Claus.

HOMECOMING: As part of the homecoming festivities at UT Saturday, four different championship teams were honored during the first quarter.

The 1970 squad under coach Frank Lauterbur finished 12-0 and capped its season with a 40-12 victory over William & Mary in the Tangerine Bowl.

The '90 Rockets under coach Nick Saban were MAC co-champs and ended the year 9-2.

In 1995, UT went 11-0-1 under coach Gary Pinkel and defeated Nevada 40-37 in overtime in the Las Vegas Bowl.

The 2000 team under Pinkel was 10-1, shared the MAC West Division title, and was ranked No. 25 in the nation.

HARDING RETURNS: Wyoming coach Dave Christensen was the offensive coordinator for the '95 and '00 Rockets, and the Cowboys' offensive line coach Jim Harding was an All-MAC offensive tackle for UT and team captain in 2000, his senior year.

The Maumee native was a four-year starter for the Rockets and set a school record with 46 consecutive starts.

FALLEN LB: Wyoming freshman linebacker Ruben Narcisse, 19, was killed in an early morning car accident Sept. 6, and the Cowboys continue to honor him with a decal on their helmets featuring his initials “RN.”

Narcisse's name remains on the Wyoming roster, and a different Cowboy wears his number each week. Sophomore linebacker Ghaali Muhammad wore No. 12 Saturday night against the Rockets.

TEAM CAPTAINS: Serving as team captains for UT last night were senior quarterback Alex Pettee, senior linebacker Drey'Lon Pree, junior defensive tackle Johnie Roberts, and sophomore quarterback Austin Dantin.

The Rockets name their captains on a game-by-game basis to reward effort and dedication during the previous week in practice.

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