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Published: Tuesday, 4/19/2011

Beckman pleased with play of running backs

BY ZACH SILKA
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Toledo's Adonis Thomas breaks through the line for a touchdown during the first quarter of the University of Toledo spring game. Toledo's Adonis Thomas breaks through the line for a touchdown during the first quarter of the University of Toledo spring game.
THE BLADE/ANDY MORRISON Enlarge | Buy This Photo

As he’s grown accustomed to doing, University of Toledo football coach Tim Beckman walked into his office Saturday morning and popped in the tape of the previous night’s game.

Although it wasn’t all pretty, Beckman had a smile on his face while watching the play of his four running backs during the Rockets’ annual intrasquad spring game.

Senior All-MAC tailback Adonis Thomas led the way for the Gold team in its 35-14 victory over the Blue squad Friday with 97 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries.

Sophomore David Fluellen added 33 yards and two touchdowns on 12 carries for the Gold team, while senior Darius Reeves posted 55 yards on 10 carries for the Blue squad.

Also on the Blue squad, senior Morgan Williams ran for 24 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries, although he could have had a lot more had his 39-yard dash in the third quarter not been negated by a holding penalty.

“I thought the running backs ran extremely well,” Beckman said Monday on the Mid-American Conference coaches’ teleconference.

UT’s running backs were also active in the passing game.

Thomas had five catches for 49 yards, while Williams hauled in four passes for 22 yards.

“Having great running backs, especially with the great offensive line that we have, it opens up everything down the field,” junior quarterback Austin Dantin said after the game.

Dantin also drew praise from Beckman Monday after completing 11-of-16 passes for 127 yards in the spring game.

Beckman also admitted that sophomore quarterback Terrance Owens, who was 8-of-17 passing for 82 yards and a touchdown, was “a little off.”

“We dropped the football on him too many times,” Beckman said, “but I think all in all both quarterbacks played well.”

Defensively, Beckman said he saw some chaotic moments and miscommunication at times, which he attributed to the spring draft that split the Rockets into two squads with a mixture of first, second, and third-team players on each side.

“[Starting middle linebacker] Danny Molls was playing with a different [weakside] linebacker, who’s not his buddy that he’d been playing with for 14 straight practices,” Beckman said. “It makes you learn how to play with different guys, because that’s college football. You’re not going to be able to play your [starters] throughout the whole year every snap of the game.”

BIG TALENT: Defensive tackle Elijah Jones made a case for increased playing time in the fall by registering two sacks and four tackles in the spring game.

The 6-2, 295-pound sophomore was a disruptive force all game long for the Gold team, and his performance didn’t go unseen.

“Elijah has had one of those springs that everybody notices,” Beckman said. “If he learns how to play four quarters of football, he could be special. I’ve been around a lot of defenses being a defensive coordinator [prior to coming to UT], and he is definitely blessed with great talent. We’ve just got to get that out of him every play.”

STEAK AND EGGS: The Gold team will be treated to a breakfast of steak and eggs this morning as a reward for winning the spring game.

The Blue squad will be served rice cakes.

YOUTH CAMP: The UT coaching staff will host a young Rocket skill camp for football players entering grades 6-10 on June 20-21 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. both days.

Cost is $135 and includes lunch and an Under Armour T-shirt. No helmet is required, and all coaching is done by the UT staff.

To register, visit coachbeckman.com.

TALENT SHOW: UT athletes will get a chance to display their “off-field” talents when the school’s student-athlete advisory council hosts its first ever talent show, “So You Think You Can Rock-et?” at Savage Arena on April 25 at 7 p.m.

Each team will present an act. Judges will include athletic director Mike O’Brien, the wife of president Dr. Lloyd Jacobs, Ola Jacobs, as well as ex-Rockets and current professional football players Lance Moore and Andrew Hawkins.

Admission is $5 and $3 for UT students. Tickets can be bought at the athletic ticket office or at the door.

Contact Zach Silka at: zsilka@theblade.com or 419-724-6084.



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