2013 Toledo Preview - Offense

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Jun 10, 2013


CollegeFootballNews.com 2013 Preview - Toledo Rocket Offense


Toledo Rockets

Preview 2013 - Offense

- 2013 Toledo Preview | 2013 Toledo Offense
- 2013 Toledo Defense | 2013 Toledo Depth Chart

What You Need To Know: The offense didn’t exactly take a year off, but it didn’t quite crank out the big numbers expected. That has to change this season with nine returning starters including all the big guns and the skill spots and four good blockers up front. Terrance Owens is a veteran passer who has to rebound from a lousy finish, and he should with Bernard Reedy and a loaded receiving corps to work with. David Fluellen is a big, fast, NFL-caliber back working behind an athletic line full of veterans. Zac Kerin is one of the nation’s top centers, while Greg Mancz is an all-star at guard.

Returning Leaders
Passing: Terrance Owens
215-350, 2,707 yds, 14 TD, 8 INT
Rushing: David Fluellen
259 carries, 1,498 yds, 13 TD
Receiving: Bernard Reedy
88 catches, 1,113 yds, 6 TD

Star of the offense: Senior RB David Fluellen
Player who has to step up and be a star: Sophomore TE Alex Zmolik
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore WR Alonzo Russell
Best pro prospect: Fluellen
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Fluellen, 2) WR Bernard Reedy, 3) C Zac Kerin
Strength of the offense: Experience, Skill Players
Weakness of the offense: Tight End, Veteran Backups

Quarterbacks

Senior Terrance Owens got the job all to himself, but he didn’t exactly have the season he was hoping for. The 6-4, 205-pounder was brilliant as a sophomore throwing 18 touchdown passes and just three picks playing his part of the season, but last year he struggled after a fantastic start completing 61 % of his passes for 2,707 yards with 14 touchdowns and eight interceptions. He has the size, the mobility, the experience and the smarts, and now he needs to shine as the leader of the offense and the team. When he’s on, he can be as accurate and as effective as any quarterback in the MAC, but he has to rebound after closing out with a dud with three picks against Northern Illinois and a 6-of-17 day in the bowl loss to Utah State.

The Rockets have some interesting options behind Owens led by 6-0, 210-pound Dwight Macon, who can throw and has a terrific arm, but will likely see more time as a receiver with Owens under center. Last year he caught 18 passes for 110 yards and got in a little bit of work as a quarterback completing 2-of-3 passes for 30 yards. Also in the equation is redshirt freshman Brian Blackburn, a big bomber with a live, field-stretching arm. They’ll each be in the hunt for the 2014 starting job and will battle all off season for the No. 2 gig.

Watch Out For … true freshman Logan Woodside. The team’s top recruit got to school early to throw his hat in the ring. The 6-2, 210-pounder out of Kentucky isn’t going to run too much, but he’s a pinpoint passer who can spread the ball around.
Strength: A nice pecking order. Owens is the clear starter, but Macon and Blackburn can fit in and produce if needed. However, Woodside isn’t coming in early to sit.
Weakness: A proven backup. Yes, there’s talent waiting in the wings, and the excitement is high about all three reserves, but last year Austin Dantin was able to step in and provide a steady veteran who could produce big things. Macon’s quarterback feet aren’t really wet yet.
Outlook: The Rockets might not have the best passing game in the MAC, but it has the potential to be the most efficient and most effective if Owens gets back to form. He has been around long enough to be a championship-caliber difference maker, but there are good-looking backups ready to come in if he sputters.
Unit Rating: 7

Running Backs

Senior David Fluellen turned into a terror in the middle of the season with six straight 100-yard games while ripping off 200-yard days against Western Michigan, Buffalo and Ball State. The 6-0, 215-pounder wore down and missed the Akron game and ran just seven times for 38 yards against Utah State in the bowl, but after running for 1,498 yards and 12 scores on his way to a first-team All-MAC season he’s expected to be one of the nation’s most effective runners. Big, fast and talented, he can do a little of everything including catch finishing third on the team with 32 grabs for 246 yards.

5-9, 180-pound junior Cassius McDowell turned in a decent year as a good backup finishing third on the team with 372 yards and three touchdowns. Extremely quick and good as a receiver, he caught 21 passes for 187 yards and a score; now he’ll get more work as a runner. Redshirt freshman Damian Jones-Moore is only 5-7 and 180 pounds, but he can fly and should grow into a bit of a home run hitter, while 6-0, 186-pound redshirt freshman Mark Remy can also move and will get his share of carries in the rotation, especially in garbage time.

Watch Out For … Jones-Moore. He’s not big and he’ll never power over anyone, but he’s tough for his size and has track star speed to be used in a variety of ways. He’ll be a fun toy for the coaching staff to play with.
Strength: Speed. Everyone in the Rocket backfield can move. It’s not a bad thing when the backup options bring a change of pace with better wheels. The Rockets have a track team running the ball.
Weakness: Power. Fluellen can pound when he needs to, but there isn’t much in the way of pure power behind him. He’s too valuable and too good to handle the ball close to 300 times again. Yes, speedy backups are a major positive, but it would be nice if someone could thump.
Outlook: Fluellen is going to grow into a good pro prospect who needs to stay effective late in the season. A threat for more than 1,500 yards, he doesn’t need to carry the entire rushing workload with some dangerous backups waiting in the wings, but he’s a difference maker who can be the league’s signature star. McDowell and Jones-Moore will be the future, and they could become bigger factors right away.
Unit Rating: 7

Receivers

The Rocket receiving corps is terrific with almost all the stars back led by Bernard Reedy, a 5-9, 175-pound veteran who upped his game in a big way last season going from 40 catches as a sophomore to 88 grabs for 1,113 yards as a junior. While he went from nine touchdowns two years ago to six last year, and he only made one scoring grab over the final six games, he’s a dangerous playmaker with the ball in his hands doing a great job of making things happen with the ball in his hands. Not just a star as a receiver, he’s also an all-star returner averaging 11.1 yards per punt return and a touchdown and close to 28 yards per kickoff return with three scores..

Reedy is hardly a one-man gang. Sophomore Alonzo Russell turned into a find at the outside X position averaging 17.1 yards per catch and finishing second on the team with 56 catches for 960 yards and five touchdowns. At 6-4 and 190 pounds he has great size to go along with his terrific speed, while 6-4, 220-pound Justin Olack is another huge target at the Z with good toughness and nice hands catching 19 passes for 260 yards and a touchdown.

While the receiving corps is loaded, the tight ends won’t be ignored. 6-5, 245-pound sophomore Alex Zmolik is a terrific blocker for the ground game, and while he only caught three passes, two were for short-range touchdowns. He’s more like a fullback than a true tight end, as is top backup Zac Rosenbauer, a 6-2, 225-pound junior who can hit, but didn’t catch a pass last season. Watch Out For … the sophomores. Along with Russell, 6-2, 195-pound Zach Rogers is a promising young player who caught just two passes last season, but has the speed to shine at the X. Fellow sophomore Kishon Wilcher is a former defensive back who’s back after being hurt all of last year. While he’s only 5-7 and 180 pounds, he can play anywhere in the receiving corps.
Strength: Experience. With Reedy, Russell and Olack, combined with the running backs and quarterback Dwight Macon, the top six pass catchers are back. There won’t be any problems spreading the ball around.
Weakness: Receiving tight ends. The wideouts should be able to do the job, but there aren’t any sure-thing pass catching tight ends. For the most part, Toledo uses the tight end in sort of a hybrid fullback role, but Zmolik has to do more than just be a goal line producer.
Outlook: Reedy is a first-team All-MAC star, and with the size of Olack and Russell as good complements, the Rockets are loaded at receiver. The quarterback play has to be a wee bit more consistent and the O line has to be stronger, but the starting receivers will do their part.
Unit Rating: 6

Offensive Line

The line came into its own as the year went on, partly due to the quarterbacking of veteran center Zack Kerin, a 6-5, 300-pound first-team All-MAC performer with pro potential either in the middle or as a zone-blocking guard. A rock for the line over the last few years, Kerin is a technician of a run blocker and doesn’t get beaten by the quicker interior pass rushers.

Kerin is the line’s best blocker, but 6-5, 300-pound junior right guard Greg Mancz is just as sound and tough when needed for the hard yards. While he’s a bit too tall for the position, he’s an all-star who does a good job of keeping the left-handed Owens’ blindside protected. He’ll have to be even better with the right tackle job open and massive 6-8, 335-pound junior Chase Nelson or 6-8, 310-pound redshirt freshman Storm Norton looking to fill the role. 6-4, 295-pound junior Josh Hendershot is back at left tackle where he held down the job for all 13 games, while 6-3, 290-pound left guard Jeff Myers is back after also starting every game. They’re not the biggest of blockers, but they’re athletic and strong on the move.

Watch Out For … new recruit Nate Jeppesen, a terrific get for the program out of Michigan with a world of upside. He’ll eventually by a star at one of the guard spots, but he needs a few years in the weightroom to fill out his frame.
Strength: The starting five. The right tackle situation won’t be a problem with a few giants in the mix to take over the job, and with the cohesion from a stronger 2012, the four returning starters should form a solid all-around unit.
Weakness: The reserves. There isn’t much to count on with junior guard Robert Lisowski the main backup at both guard spots and a slew of untested options for the other spots. The key to the offense early on will be to stay injury free.
Outlook: The line wasn’t a rock in pass protection giving up 26 sacks, but it turned in a nice season for the ground game. With four returning starters, this should be a major plus for an offense full of high-powered skill players. This is a tight, veteran crew with talents in Kerin and Mancz to do lead the way.
Unit Rating: 6

- 2013 Toledo Preview | 2013 Toledo Offense
- 2013 Toledo Defense | 2013 Toledo Depth Chart