Toledo Preview 2006
Posted Aug 7, 2006

It's saying something when a nine-win season has become routine.

Offense | Defense | Depth Chart | Further Analysis

Granted, the Rockets didn't win the MAC title last season, they didn't even win their own division, but while Northern Illinois might have played Akron for the conference championship, Tom Amstutz's team had the last laugh blowing out UTEP 45-13 in the GMAC Bowl in a bigger win than it might appear.

Toledo had been to plenty of bowl games, but it got annihilated by a combined score of 90 to 35 over the previous two and gave the MAC a bit of a black eye. Now the Rockets will try to shoot for even more with the team to make the type of national noise Miami University got in 2003 with Ben Roethlisberger.

Oh sure, winning the MAC is the first goal going into every season, but it's just as important on a national scale to be consistent and to occasionally get the big wins in high profile games. Averaging nine wins a season under Amstutz shows just how good the program has been over the last five seasons
and it's going to be five in six.

Head coach: Tom Amstutz
6th year: 45-18
Returning Lettermen
Off. 20, Def. 22, 2 ST
Lettermen Lost: 12
Ten Best Rocket Players
OT John Greco, Jr.  
LB Mike Alston, Sr.
3. FS Tyrrell Herbert, Jr.
4. WR Steve Odom, Sr.
5. TE Chris Hopkins, Sr.
6. OG David Perkins, Jr.
7. CB Nigel Morris, Jr.
8. LB Mike Chamberlain, Sr.
9. RB Jalen Parmele, Jr.
10. RB Scooter McDougle, Jr.

2006 Schedule
CFN Prediction:

8/31 at Iowa State
9/9 at Western Michigan
9/15 Kansas
9/23 McNeese State
9/30 at Pitt
10/7 Central Michigan
10/14 at Kent State
10/21 at Eastern Michigan
10/28 Akron
11/7 at Northern Illinois
11/14 Ball State
11/21 Bowling Green

2005 Schedule
CFN Prediction: 9-2
2005 Results: 9-3

Preview 2005 predicted wins

9/1 Western Illinois W 62-14
9/10 Western Mich W 56-23
9/17 at Temple W 42-17
9/27 at Fresno State L 44-14
10/8 Eastern Mich W 30-3
10/15 at Ball State W 34-14
10/22 Buffalo W 38-15
10/29 at Central Mich L 21-17
11/4 at Ohio W 30-21
11/16 Northern Illinois L 35-17
11/22 at B Green W 44-41 2OT
12/21 GMAC Bowl
UTEP W 45-13

The Rockets finished first in the MAC in total offense, first in scoring, first in total defense, first in scoring defense, first in rushing offense, and near the top of just about every other category. With 44 lettermen returning along with 16 starters, expect more of the same despite losing some huge pieces of last year's puzzle.

It seems like asking a lot to be the MAC favorite after losing QB Bruce Gradkowski, the top two running backs, three of the top four tacklers, and a kicker who didn't miss a field goal, but Toledo is going to do it and come out looking just fine thanks to plenty of strong young talents waiting to produce.

The building blocks are in place with the MAC's best offensive line, one of the league's best defensive lines, and a linebacking corps that will be camped out in opposing backfields all season long. And, of course, there's Amstutz and his coaching staff that have proven to be able to make adjustments on the fly and be able to patch up problems in a hurry.

Yes, Toledo will be the odds on favorite to win the championship and could even be in the mix for a ten-win season. There's nothing routine about winning. 

The Schedule: There will be chances for a few big statements with road trips to Iowa State and Pitt over the first half of the season, while the MAC schedule works out relatively well getting three of the final four games at home. However, the Rockets have to go on the road to face Northern Illinois and Western Michigan. The road games at Kent State and Eastern Michigan should by layups. Facing Akron and Bowling Green at home is a major plus.

Best Offensive Player: Junior OT John Greco. He might not be the tackle that New England Patriot Nick Kaczur was, but he has grown into a rock of a tackle and was a key anchor on the line after moving from the right side to fill in Kaczur's spot on the left. If he's not the MAC's best offensive lineman, he'll be number two.

Best Defensive Player: Senior LB Mike Alston. He received First Team All-MAC honors based on his 9.5 sacks and 12.5 tackles for loss. While he was a top player for the Rocket defense last season, he wasn't the overall linebacker Anthony Jordan and David Thomas were. Watch for that to change this season as Alston should finish among the team's top three tacklers.

Key player to a successful season: Sophomore QB Clint Cochran. Cochran has the accurate arm, the mobility, and the talent to make the offense continue to roll, but he has to fill the shoes of Bruce Gradkowski, who completed 68% of his passes with 85 touchdown passes and only 27 interceptions. The rest of the pieces are in place to win the MAC title as long as Cochran does his part.

The season will be a success if ... Toledo wins the MAC title. The schedule works out well enough and the experience and talent is in place. Finding a way to get by a road trip to Northern Illinois will be key while avoiding a slip against the rest of the MAC team's they'll be favored over.

Key game: Nov. 7 at Northern Illinois. Toledo lost 35-17 last year at home in one of the shockers of the MAC season. Now it'll likely take a win in DeKalb to be the West representative in the conference title game.

2005 Fun Stats: 
- First quarter scoring: Toledo 119 - Opponents 45
- Sacks: Toledo 31 for 229 yards - Opponents 13 for 96 yards
- Punts: Opponents 63 for 2,441 yards - Toledo 37 for 1,305 yards

The Last Time Toledo…
…played in a bowl game…2005 (GMAC Bowl vs. UTEP)
…missed a bowl game…2003
…pitched a shutout…2000 (Marshall)
…was shutout…1998 (Ohio State)
…scored 50 points…2005 (Western Michigan)
…went undefeated…1995
…won a conference title…2004 (MAC)
…had a 3,000-yard passer…2004 (Bruce Gradkowski)
…had a 1,000-yard rusher…2005 (Trinity Dawson)
…had a 1,000-yard receiver…2004 (Lance Moore)
…had a first-round draft choice…1993 (DE Dan Williams)

Related Stories
Toledo Preview 2006 - Offense
 -by  Aug 7, 2006
Toledo Preview 2006 - Further Analysis
 -by  Aug 7, 2006
Toledo Preview 2006 - Depth Chart
 -by  Aug 7, 2006

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