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Back in the swing of things

Rockets set to begin bowl practice in Washington

Back-in-the-swing-of-things

UT coach Matt Campbell has been putting his team through the paces in Toledo. The Rockets arrived in Washington on Friday evening.

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WASHINGTON -- Waving blue and gold pompoms and clattering plastic handclappers marked the arrival of the University of Toledo football team at the Renaissance Hotel Friday evening in advance of Wednesday's matchup against Air Force in the Military Bowl.

Shortly after touching down at Dulles International Airport, the Rockets were greeted at their team hotel by a dozen or so UT supporters and bowl representatives.

"I think we're just all happy to be down here and ready to get to the game," said UT junior wide receiver Eric Page. "It's just nice to be somewhere new. It was cool seeing a little bit of the country's capital [on the drive to the hotel], and I'm sure we'll get to enjoy even more of that as we get closer to the game."

Following what UT coach Matt Campbell described as "four real good practices" this week back in Toledo, the Rockets will commence their on-site work Saturday morning with their first practice in Washington.

"Our kids are ready to get going," Campbell said. "It's been four weeks since we last played a game. Our kids are anxious to get back in the swing of things. This was a good week to kind of get ourselves back going again and really focus in on Air Force."

Campbell said he plans to conduct "short, fast practices" in the next few days and the emphasis will be on "finetuning the gameplan."

After a travel day Friday, the Rockets should be eager to get back to work Saturday, Campbell said.

"I think our kids will be anxious," he said. "Just walking into the hotel and seeing D.C., it's impressive. I think for our young men to be a part of this and see this whole thing, I think it's a priceless opportunity for each one of them."

For UT sophomore safety Ross Madison, it kicked off the start of a mini homecoming week.

"It's a good feeling," said Madison, a native of nearby Leesburg, Va. "When we were driving to the hotel, I saw the exits to my house. It just feels good to be home."

Madison expects to have 30-40 friends and family members in attendance when the Rockets take on Air Force on Wednesday at RFK Stadium.

"It's nice to finally have a game closer to my house so more of my family can see us," Madison said. "It means a lot. It's a nice opportunity for my family and friends."

The Rockets also realize the opportunity they have to play in a bowl game against a nationally recognized opponent while also taking in the sights and accommodations of a world-class city.

A bevy of different appetizers and drinks awaited UT at its welcome reception at the hotel, and there's plenty more treats to come in the next few days.

"We're taking this as a business trip, but at the same time, we're going to have fun with it," UT sophomore quarterback Terrance Owens said. "So far, so good."

Contact Zach Silka at: zsilka@theblade.com, 419-724-6084 or on Twitter @ZachSilka.

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