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Rockets ready to meet heightened expectations

University of Toledo quarterback Logan Woodside (center) prepares for his fifth season as a Rocket. (Gary Sensenstein/WNWO).

The University of Toledo Rockets enter the 2017 campaign with heightened expectations as the preseason pick to win the Mid American Conference (MAC).

The Rockets practiced for the first time on Monday, exactly one month before opening the 2017 schedule at home against Elon.

"Good to get back out there with the guys," said senior quarterback Logan Woodside, who dominated the school record book in 2016. "One more fall camp for me, I'm so excited to get out there. It's going to be a special year for us."

Reporters think it will be a special year too. Members of the MAC media picked UT to win the regular and postseason championships.

"There's still a really easy blueprint to this thing and that's to find ways to motivate yourself every day to be the best you can be," said Jason Candle of the high expectations.

He says these first few weeks are critical as the players are generally able to focus solely on their athletic responsibilities until the academic year begins August 28th.

"Just focus on football," Candle said at the team's media day on Monday.

The players and coaches will move into dorms on Thursday until the rest of the campus-community arrives.

It's a return to an old tradition that many programs have abandoned.

"Just trying to become one team and stay focused," Candle said.

For the athletes, it's about pushing through the grind.

"There's a lot of pain... aching," said senior cornerback Trevon Mathis. "But you gotta fight through it."

And by fighting through it, the Rockets think they have a team ready to meet the high expectations and give the fans at the Glass Bowl something to be excited about.

"You're going to see a team that's going to play really hard, a team that is one, that plays together and we're going to have some fun," Woodside said. "That's what this game is all about. We're just going to go out and give it everything we've got."

The Rockets host Elon on August 31st.

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