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CFN Take: Toledo Comback Falls Short vs. Zips
Posted Nov 29, 2013

Toledo Rockets 2013 ... Head coach: Matt Campbell

Toledo Rockets

2013 Record: 7-5
8/31 at Florida L 24-6
9/7 at Missouri L 38-23
9/14 E. Washingon W 33-21
9/21 at Central Michigan W 38-17
9/28 at Ball State L 31-24
10/5 Western Mich W 47-20
10/19 Navy W 45-44
10/26 at Bowling Green W 28-25
11/2 Eastern Michigan W 55-16
11/12 Buffalo W 51-41
11/20 NIU L 35-17
11/29 at Akron L 31-29
Akron Toledo

at Akron 31, Toledo 29
Basically … Akron got three touchdown passes from Kyle Pohl and a two-yard scoring run from Jawon Chisolm on the way to a 31-17 lead, but the D had to hold on in the final moments. Bernard Reedy caught a 28-yard touchdown pass late in the fourth, and Marc Remy scored from three points out with under a minute to play to pull the Rockets within two, but Akron’s Bryce Cheek broke up a two-point conversion try and the Zips recovered the onside kick to hang on.
- Akron QB Kyle Pohl completed 18-of-29 passes for 259 yards and three scores
- Toledo QB Terrence Owens completed 16-of-33 passes for 158 yards and three scores.
- Toledo RB Marc Remy ran 16 times for 103 yards and a score, and Kareem Hunt ran 19 times for 103 yards.
- Akron averaged 8.6 yards per throw. Toledo averaged 4.8 yards per try.

Northern Illinois 35, at Toledo 17
Basically … Northern Illinois won the MAC West by pulling away after a tough first 40 minutes. The Rockets held a 17-14 lead on Terrance Owens touchdown passes of 45 yards out to Alonzo Russell at the end of the second quarter and 36 yards away to Bernard Reedy in the third to answer a 12-yard Jordan Lynch touchdown run. But the Huskie D put the clamps down and Lynch went to work, leading NIU to 21 unanswered points with two touchdown dashes – highlighted by a 15-pay, 99-yard drive leading the way to his one-yard score for some breathing room. James Spencer put the game away with a one-yard touchdown run.
- Toledo turned the ball over four times, NIU didn’t turn it over.
- NIU outrushed Toledo 364 yards to 184
- NIU QB Jordan Lynch completed 17-of-22 passes for 202 yards, and ran 28 times for 161 yards and three touchdowns.
- Toledo QB Terrance Owens completed 17-of-29 passes for 235 yards and two touchdowns with two picks, and he ran eight times for 22 yards.

at Toledo 55, Eastern Michigan 16
Basically … Toledo scored the first 28 points of the game on two Terrance Owens touchdown passes and scoring runs from Damion Jones-Moore and Kareem Hunt, who added a 39-yard scoring dash on the way to a 35-3 lead. Eastern Michigan scored late in the first half on a 16-yard Dustin Creel catch, but the Rockets rolled the rest of the way highlighted by an 80-yard Justin Olack catch.
-Toledo QB Terrance Owens completed 18-of-24 passes for 375 yards and three touchdowns, with nine different receivers catching passes.
- Toledo outgained Eastern Michigan 729 yards to 309. The Eagles only ran for 82 yards.
- Eastern Michigan QB Brian Roback completed 11-of-22 passes for 209 yards and two touchdowns with a pick.
- Toledo RB Kareem Hunt ran 20 times for 168 yards and two touchdowns, and he caught three passes for 28 yards.

at Toledo 47, Western Michigan 20
Basically … Toledo’s David Fluellen dominated with 220 yards and touchdown runs from 7, 6, 66 and 2 yards out in a game that wasn’t as close as the final score. The Rockets got up 23-0 helped by two of Fluellen’s scoring runs and a 40-yard Bernard Reedy touchdown catch, and Trent Voss scored on a fumble return on the way to a 47-7 lead before WMU scored 13 fourth quarter points.
- David Fluellen had to carry the Toledo offense because the passing game wasn’t getting the job done. Considering the Rockets were winning with ease, it should’ve been a stronger game for Terrance Owens, who completed just 11-of-25 passes for 149 yards and a score. With 360 rushing yards, Toledo had the game well in hand.
- At the very least, Western Michigan was supposed to be able to keep up the pace in games like this. The run defense couldn’t contain David Fluellen, but the bigger problem was an offense that sputtered and coughed with four turnovers and just 87 yards on the ground.

Toledo 38, at Central Michigan 17
Basically … Toledo broke open a tight game in the fourth quarter on touchdown runs from Damion Jones-Moore and David Fluellen to put it away. Terrance Owens came off the bench and threw a three-yard touchdown pass to Alonzo Russell, and the defense got into the act with a 22-yard fumble return for a score from Junior Sylvestre. CMU kept fighting with a 19-yard TD catch from Connor Odykirk and a one-yard score from Saylor Lavallii late in the first, but the offense could only manage a field goal in the second half.
- The Rockets might have had some key players banged up, but they fought through it. Terrance Owens was magnificent, completing 13-of-17 passes for 139 yards and a score, and David Fluellen, on a gimpy ankle ran for 197 yards and two scores on 32 carries.
- This was one of CMU’s better efforts, even in the loss. Saylor Lavallii continues to try carrying the offense, with 24 carries for 144 yards and a score, but the offensive line struggled mightily in the second half.
- There were too many plays made down the field, but CMU LB Justin Cherocci was terrific with 15 tackles with a tackle for loss and a fumble recovery. The CMU D’s problem was pressure into the backfield. There wasn’t any.
- Chase Murdock was a playmaker for the Rockets. Justin Sylvestre tied for the team lead with 12 tackles with a sack and two fumble recoveries, including a scoop-and-score, but Murdock was just as dominant with 12 stops, two sacks and a pick.

at Toledo 33, Eastern Washington 21, Sept. 14
Basically … Down 14-6 in the first quarter, Toledo controlled the action the rest of the way outscoring EWU 27-7 highlighted by an 81-yard touchdown pass from Logan Woodside to Bernard Reedy. David Fluellen added scoring dashes from 44 and 12 yards away, and Damion Jones-Moore put the game away on a four-yard touchdown run in the fourth. EWU got three touchdown passes from Vernon Adams.
- This was a nicer win than it might appear. Remember, Eastern Washington beat Oregon State to open the season, and the Toledo defense was able to hold up with two takeaway and lots and lots of good stops against the run. The linebackers kept quarterback Vernon Adams from taking off, but he threw for 326 yards.
- Starting quarterback Terrance Owens was knocked out with a knee injury, and Logan Woodside was thrown into the fire. The freshman completed 14-of-24 passes for 185 yards and a touchdown, and most importantly, he didn’t throw a pick.
- The running game took the heat off. David Fluellen ran for 143 of the team’s 325 yards, controlling the clock and taking the ball out of Woodside’s hands.
- There weren’t any turnovers, but the Rockets committed 11 penalties for 92 yards.

at Missouri 38, Toledo 23, Sept. 7
Basically … Henry Josey ran for two short touchdowns and Markus Golden returned an interception 70 yards for a score as Missouri got by a plucky Toledo. Down 24-9, the Rockets came back with a scoring run from Terrance Owens and a 41-yard touchdown pass to Alonzo Russell, but the Tigers scored 14 unanswered points and the defense held on. Jeremiah Detmer hit three field goals for Toledo.
- Toledo only ran for 125 yards, but Missouri’s defensive front had problems getting gashed by David Fluellen for 111 yards on just 17 carries, and ten catches for 100 yards. There were a few missed tackles that turned into problems.
- James Franklin was fine, but nothing special. He completed 16-of-25 passes for 212 yards and a touchdown with a pick, and he led the Tigers with 77 rushing yards – that’s not a plus. The running backs have to handle the workload.
- Why isn’t Mizzou pushing the ball deep to Dorial Green-Beckham? He caught five passes for 51 yards, but he’s a devastating weapon waiting to be unleashed.
- Toledo QB Terrance Owens has to keep the turnovers to a minimum. He got the offense working – Fluellen had a lot to do with that – but the three picks were a killer.

at Florida 24, Toledo 6, Aug. 31
Basically … Mack Brown rumbled for two short touchdowns and Jeff Driskel connected with Gideon Ajagbe from four yards out as Florida overcame a plodding offensive day to win easily. The defense was fantastic, holding the high-powered Toledo offense to just 205 yards including 50 on the ground. The Rockets managed just two Jeremiah Detmer field goals.
- THERE’S the Mack Brown everyone has been waiting for. There wasn’t anything flashy or special, but he pounded for 112 yards and two scores on 25 carries, doing what the Gators needed him to do.
- Jeff Driskel didn’t turn the ball over, and he completed 17-of-22 passes, but he didn’t push the ball down the field and the passing game was effective, but not explosive. It was fine, for now, but eventually he’ll have to hit on a deep pass.
- Terrance Owens threw 38 times, but he only cranked out 155 yards with a pick. He didn’t get any room to breathe, and neither did running back David Fluellen. The Rockets had to give up on the run.
- Toledo converted just 1-of-13 third down plays.

Spring Analysis

Why To Be Excited ... The Rockets are absolutely loaded on offense. Northern Illinois might have the league’s best attack, but Toledo should be able to keep up with anyone with nine starters returning including quarterback Terrance Owens and four starters on the line. The receiving corps should be devastating with Bernard Reedy and Alonzo Russell two terrific playmakers to work around. Throw in running back David Fluellen, who averaged 125 yards per game, and this will be a nasty team to keep in check.

Why To Be Grouchy ... The defense needs a ton of tweaking considering it couldn’t stop anyone’s passing game and eight starters are gone. Tackling-machine linebacker Dan Molls is gone from the middle, three starters have to be replaced up front, and three starters are gone from a secondary that got ripped to shreds allowing a MAC-worst 291 yards per game. After getting blown out by Utah State 41-15 in the bowl game, there’s lots of work to do.

What Needs Working On ... The defensive front has to start getting behind the line. The secondary gave up 200 yards or more in every game, and while it came up with 17 picks, it also gave up two touchdowns or more five times. Five of the 24 sacks came against Coastal Carolina and four came against Akron. When the Rockets weren’t hitting the quarterback, the secondary was ripped to shreds. There won’t be much to do on offense, but the line could stand to be a bit better in pass protection.

Non-Conference Games: at Florida, at Missouri, Eastern Washington, Navy
Games Against The East: at Akron, at Bowling Green, Buffalo,
Realistic Best Case Record: 9-3
Worst Case Record: 6-6
Likely Finish: 8-4

Pre-Preseason Projected Wins: Eastern Washington, at Central Michigan, at Ball State, Western Michigan, Eastern Michigan, Buffalo, Northern Illinois, at Akron

Pre-Preseason Projected Losses: at Florida, at Missouri, Navy, at Bowling Green

Schedule Analysis: The Rockets start out with a nasty run going to Florida and Missouri as part of four road games before October. Fortunately, five of the next six games are at home including the key West showdown against Northern Illinois before closing out with a layup at Akron. Getting two weeks off to get ready for Navy should help in what should be a good run. Going to Bowling Green is a bad break from the East, but getting Akron and Buffalo isn’t bad.

Team Concerns For 2013: With eight starters gone on a defense that finished last in the MAC against the pass and 109th in overall yards allowed. Three starters are gone on the defensive front and three are gone in the secondary. After allowing 291 yards per game through the air, the Rockets have to tighten up with all the new starters, and it would help to get a bit more out of the pass rush. The offense that was so strong at times died in the bowl loss to Utah State, but it gets back nine starters.

The 2013 Class Is Heavy On ... Defensive linemen. The secondary that struggled so much last season might be looking for a little bit of instant help from Austin Niswander and Delando Johnson at safety, while DeJuan Rogers is a great get at corner. The defense got the most help up front with JUCO transfer Robert Zimmerman a decent pickup for the depth and Marquise Moore and end Daniel Davis brought in for a few years from now. It's a deep class of linemen with several other options to play around with. On offense, quarterback Logan Woodside has excellent upside with the perfect tools to fit the Rocket attack.

2012 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 58. That Class Was Heavy On ... New head coach Matt Campbell is getting most of the players former head man Tim Beckman went after, and he’s bringing in a huge class led by a great group of linemen. The lines hadn’t been addressed for a few years, and now Campbell is making up for it with plenty of offensive tackles to develop for the near future and some ready-made defensive tackles who can step in and contend for jobs right away. The Rockets need them. 

2011 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 80. That Class Was Heavy On ... Receivers. Last year might have been a success, but the offense struggled and the passing game was hit-or-miss. With four strong receivers, led by 6-4 instant-impact producers Justin Olack and Alonzo Russell along with JUCO transfer tight end Colby Kratch, the Rockets are looking to throw it around a bit more. This is the second straight huge class with plenty of prospects with a little of everything being addressed, and while the receivers are the stars, offensive tackle and defensive back also got a boost.

2010 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 75. That Class Was Heavy On ... Bulk. There was little specific targeting for Tim Beckman with a year to recruit, and he and his staff did a fantastic job of upgrading the overall talent level. RBs Cassius McDowell and David Fluellen provide a potential thunder and lightning tandem, and Taylor Miller will be an all-star blocker before he's done. Defense has been a huge problem over the last few seasons but LBs Jayrone Elliott and Zac Rosenbauer should shore things up soon while JUCO transfer Taikwon Paige and Keith Suggs bring more athleticism to the secondary.

2009 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 109. That Class Was Heavy On ... Defensive backs. There are several decent incoming defensive ends/linebackers, and the passing game got a boost for the future, but it’s the secondary that got the most help with four corner prospects, led by the lightning fast Byron Best, and safety Jermaine Robinson, who might be ready to play right away.

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