2007 Toledo Preview

Posted Jun 12, 2007

Preview 2007 Toledo Rockets

Toledo Rockets

Preview 2007

By Pete Fiutak

- 2007 Toledo Offense Preview | 2007 Toledo Defense Preview
2007 Toledo Depth Chart | 2006 CFN Toledo Preview 

Imagine Michigan being a Big Ten also-ran or Oklahoma finishing with a losing conference record. In MAC terms, Toledo finishing 5-7 overall and 3-5 in league play is the equivalent after 12 straight winning seasons and four bowl appearances in five years.  

Don’t expect the Rockets to be down for long after a very strange, very inconsistent season. The team was good enough to beat Kansas, and flaky enough to lose to Eastern Michigan. Even with all the problems, had star tight end been able to make a grab in the second overtime against Iowa State, and if there was even a little bit of an offense against EMU and Ball State, Toledo would’ve been 8-4 and no one would be saying anything about the rebuilding year.

Head coach: Tom Amstutz
7th year: 50-25
Returning Lettermen
Off. 23, Def. 26, ST 3
Lettermen Lost: 14
Ten Best Rocket Players
OT John Greco, Sr.
2. TE Chris Hopkins, Sr.
3. SS Barry Church, Soph.
4. FS Tyrrell Herbert, Sr.
5. RB Jalen Parmele, Sr.
6. LB Greg Hay, Sr.
7. DE Sean Williamson, Sr.
8. LB Keith Forestal, Jr.
9. QB Aaron Opelt, Soph.
10. OG Jared Dewalt, Soph.

2007 Schedule
CFN Prediction: 7-5

Sept. 1


Sept. 8

at Central Mich

Sept. 15

at Kansas

Sept. 22

Iowa State

Sept. 29

Western Michigan

Oct. 6


Oct. 13

at Buffalo

Oct. 20


Oct. 27

Northern Illinois

Nov. 3

Eastern Michigan

Nov. 13

at Ball State

Nov. 23

at Bowling Green

2006 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
2006 Results:
Preview 2006 predicted wins

8/31 at Iowa St L 45-43 3OT
9/9 at Western Mich L 31-10
9/15 Kansas W 37-31 2OT
9/23 McNeese State W 41-7
9/30 at Pitt L 45-3
10/7 Central Michigan L 42-20
10/14 at Kent State L 40-14
10/21 at Eastern Mich L 17-13
10/28 Akron W 35-20
11/7 at No Illinois W 17-13
11/14 Ball State L 20-17
11/21 Bowling Green W 31-21

The big problem with the setback, and why this year is so important, is because of the next step the program wanted to take. It was on the verge of being a bigger player outside of the MAC after 45-13 win over UTEP in the 2005 GMAC Bowl, and then 2006 proved the team wasn’t recession-proof.

The dip might be short lived as long as the quarterback situation, which was a stunning mess throughout all of last year, is finally settled and the defense plays more like it did over the second half of the season than the first half. Unfortunately, all the teams with the big offenses came before mid-October, so any positive momentum from the end of the year might be a bit of a mirage.

Nine starters are back on defense while the running game should be dominant with the MAC’s deepest stable of running backs. If nothing else, Clint Cochran and Aaron Opelt each got plenty of experience under center and should be more seasoned and accurate.

And then there’s the coaching. You don’t win as many games as Tom Amstutz has over the last six years without doing something right. It’ll be a stunner if he and his staff don’t have the Rockets back in the MAC title hunt and in a bowl game again.

And then there’s Scooter. Hanging over the program is the ugly cloud from point shaving allegations against suspended running back Scooter McDougle. If Toledo gets back to its place among the MAC’s top teams, it’ll have gone through a down year, a quarterback issue, and a scandal of all scandals. This team should be good enough to do it.

What to watch for on offense: More passing efficiency. Clint Cochran appeared to be a solid replacement for Bruce Gradkowski after carving up Iowa State for 367 yards and three touchdowns in the season opener, but then his accuracy fell off the map, he got knocked out with a knee injury, and then wasn’t right the rest of the season. Aaron Opelt, more of a runner than a pure passer, wasn’t quite ready for primetime when thrown into the spotlight. Now the quarterback situation might be a plus considering the experience and talent. They’re good; they just needed time. Opelt will be far better.

What to watch for on defense: More plays in the backfield. Defensive coordinator Tim Rose is big on taking the fight to the offense and not reading and reacting. Unfortunately, there weren’t enough sacks, not enough plays in the backfield, and too many problems in the secondary early on. With plenty of returning experience and great depth on the line, Rose can open things up a bit and create more ways to swarm around the ball.

The team will be far better if … the penalties slow down. For a team in search of consistency, it needs to cut down on the sins. The Rockets averaged close to seven penalties a game for 67 yards. While that might not seem like much, it made them 103rd in the nation in penalties. Then again, Florida was 118th.

The Schedule: Unlike most MAC teams, Toledo gets a few home games in a row. Not only is there one three game homestand, but there’s two with chances to make some big-time noise in the West. While the showdown with defending MAC champion Central Michigan is on the road, the Western Michigan and Northern Illinois games are at home. Playing Ohio from the East isn’t a good break, but at least the game’s in Toledo. Closing out with two road games at Ball State and Bowling Green might be tougher than expected.

Best Offensive Player: Senior OT John Greco. Tight end Chris Hopkins is also worthy of being considered the team’s top offensive player. Greco is a 6-5, 318-pound rock at left tackle, but could play on the right side if needed. He’s a brick wall in pass protection and the one the team runs behind for hard yards.

Best Defensive Player: Sophomore S Barry Church and/or Senior FS Tyrrell Herbert. The 6-2, 215-pound tackling machine came on like gangbusters in his freshman season leading the team with four interceptions while making 71 tackles. He’s great at getting into the backfield and tremendous at helping out in pass coverage.

Key player to a successful season: QBs Clint Cochran, Aaron Opelt and Brandon Summers. A championship season could quickly fall apart if the quarterback play hasn’t improved.  Someone has to take the job by the horns and show that this is his team. All three saw time last season with no one playing with any consistency. Cochran is likely the best option of the trio right off the bat, but Opelt has the most upside.   

The season will be a success if ... Toledo wins the West. The schedule is too favorable, and the defense too experienced, to shoot for anything lower. As long as the quarterback situation is settled, and if the running game can be more in control in early games, there should be a return to MAC powerhouse status.

Key game: Sept. 8 at Central Michigan. Talk about setting the tone for the season, if the Rockets can come out of Mount Pleasant in the second game of the year, they have a shot to run the MAC table. Until mid-November, there’s only one other conference game on the road, at Buffalo.

2006 Fun Stats: 
- Third quarter scoring: Opponents 77 – Toledo 28
- Punt return average: Opponents 13.6 yards per return – Toledo 4.9 yards
- Field goal attempts: Toledo 7 of 8 – Opponents 12 of 17


Related Stories
2007 Toledo Preview - Offense
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Jun 12, 2007
2007 Toledo Preview - Defense
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Jun 12, 2007
2007 Toledo Preview - Depth Chart
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Jun 12, 2007

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