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2007 Toledo Preview - Offense
Toledo Rocket Offense Preview
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What you need to know:
Injuries hit the offensive line last year and killed the
production and the consistency. With John Greco back at left
tackle and a slew of big redshirt freshmen, the front five
should be better and could be fantastic is David Perkins and
Jerry Aguwa return to their pre-injury form. The spread offense
should improve with quarterback Aaron Opelt looking better and
Clint Cochran healthy again after a knee problem. The receiving
corps is big, fast, and so far, disappointing. That could
quickly change considering all the interesting targets. Jalen
Parmele and DaJuane Collins form a good 1-2 rushing punch that
needs to stay healthy with the off-the-field issues of Richard
Davis and Scooter McDougle.
Passing: Clint Cochran
96-169, 960 yds, 6 TD, 4 INT
Rushing: Jalen Parmele
207 carries, 1,131 yds, 8 TD
Receiving: Chris Hopkins
54 catches, 565 yds, 7 TD
Star of the offense: Senior OT John Greco
Proven receiver production,
Player that has to step up and become a star: Junior WR
Unsung star on the rise: Redshirt freshman OG Jan Gewont
Best pro prospect: Greco
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Greco, 2) TE Chris Hopkins, 3) RB Jalen Parmele
Strength of the offense: Quarterback, top running backs
Weakness of the offense:
Projected Starter: While the starting quarterback job is
still technically up for grabs going into the fall, sophomore
Aaron Opelt has the inside track. With the biggest upside
and most potential for the spread offense, he's the one who
could make the offense explode with his combination of skills
rushing for 261 yards and four touchdowns to go along with 875
passing yards and six touchdowns. He threw five interceptions,
but only tossed one over the final five games. As well as he
played at times, he didn't get the offense moving consistently
enough. That should change with a year of experience under his
Projected Top Reserves: Junior Clint Cochran
was supposed to be the next great Toledo quarterback, but he
had problems staying healthy with a knee injury limiting him to
just seven games and four starts. Even so, he completed 57% of
his throws for 960 yards and six touchdowns highlighted by a
brilliant 367-yard, three touchdown day in the loss to Iowa
State. He doesn't have nearly the mobility of Opelt, but he's a
little bit bigger and has a more consistent passing touch.
third man in the hunt is sophomore Brandon Summers with a
decent, accurate arm and good running skills. He's not all that
big at 6-0 and 187 pounds and will have to be amazing to have
any shot of beating out the other two.
Watch Out For ... Opelt to go from good to All-MAC
status. He was a more poised, more polished quarterback in
spring ball making better decisions and looking like the starter
he didn't always appear to be last season. The light has gone
Strength: Options. All three quarterbacks can play with Cochran
and Summers just as good to lead the offense as Opelt; they just
don't have the same promise.
Weakness: Proven accuracy. Yeah, they all are great in practices
and Cochran was great in mop-up duty a few years ago, but
someone has to become a 65% passer on a regular basis. It
doesn't help to follow in the footsteps of Mr. Accuracy, Bruce
Outlook: It's a great situation. Cochran is
healthy again and should be the passer everyone thought he'd
grow into before the knee problem. Opelt is sharper, more mature
on the field, and ready to be the star, and Summers is as good a
number three as anyone in the MAC can ask for. Expect more
overall production from the position, and also expect the race
for the top job to last up until the last minute. More talent is
on the way with
D.J. Lenehan and Travaris Cadet
two of the team's star recruits.
Projected Starters: Senior Jalen Parmele hasn't
been at Toledo for 14 years; it just seems that way. The
talented All-MAC runner tore off 1,170 yards and eight
touchdowns last season as he finally got most of the workload to
himself after finally staying healthy. A powerful 222 pounds
with excellent quickness and vision, he got better as the season
went on finishing with four straight 100-yard games (and a
99-yard effort against Eastern Michigan to start the run) as the
offense revolved around him more and more. While he's not a
weapon as a receiver, he'll make a few grabs here and there
catching 16 passes for 128 yards last season.
Projected Top Reserves: After Scooter McDougle's
problems from an alleged involvement with a gambler, the last
thing the program needed, especially the backfield, was another
problem. It got it as junior Richard Davis, the team's
second leading rusher with 282 yards and three touchdowns was
arrested on charges of attempted aggravated burglary. That means
the MAC's deepest backfield now becomes Parmele and sophomore
DaJuane Collins, who saw time in ten games rushing for 261
yards and three touchdowns averaging 5.6 yards per carry.
Getting him more work is a good thing. He's a very quick, very
athletic runner who should shine once he starts to become more
involved. Now he has to prove he can handle the responsibility.
Redshirt freshman Dontae Jones is a 215-pound banger who
goes from being lost in the shuffle to becoming a key weapon in
the rotation. On the way is top freshman Morgan Williams,
a two-time Ohio Player of the Year who ran for 4,864 yards and
65 touchdowns in his final two years.
Watch Out For ... the coaching staff to be nervous
about Parmele's health. At the moment, he's the running game and
the one player the offense can't afford to lose. He got just one
carry in the spring game, and he's not going to get any more
work than he has to early on.
Strength: Quickness. All the Toledo backs can zip and dart
through the holes, and all can rip off five yards a crack when
they get a shot. If Aaron Opelt is under center, the entire
workload won't fall on the backs and they'll be even more
Weakness: Depth. All of a sudden a strength has turned into a
weakness, or at least a concern. It's not like Collins and the
rest of the young backs aren't talented, but it would've been
nice to have McDougle and the versatile Davis to work with.
Outlook: As long as Parmele is right, the running
game will be more than fine and could flirt with 2,000 yards if
Collins has a great year. Expect several young, untested backs
to get key carries early on to get their feet wet.
It's time for junior Nick Moore to go from being a strong
complementary receiver to a star number one. He caught 20 passes
for 200 yards and no touchdowns, but he has the talent and
ability to do far more. At 6-4 and 192 pounds, the brother of
former Rocket star Lance Moore has to use his size and his deep
speed to replace Steve Odom as the go-to wide receiver.
Andrew Hawkins is the smallest Rocket receiver in the mix
at only 5-8 and 163 pounds, but he has the speed to become a
dangerous weapon. Hurt throughout last year, he only made eight
grabs for 104 yards and a touchdown.
Williams is one of the team's most intriguing offensive with
6-5, 195-pound size and the wheels to get deep. Now he has to be
consistent and take advantage of single coverage after catching
just six passes for 87 yards and a touchdown despite getting
The team's best target is tight end Chris
Hopkins, a legitimate Mackey Award candidate who led the
team with 54 catches for 565 yards and seven touchdowns. With
great hands, fantastic route running ability and good blocking
skills, the 6-5, 255-pound senior can do it all as long as he
hangs on to the ball. If he catches everything that comes his
way, he could be a 70-grab target.
Projected Top Reserves:
Washington started seven games last year but only caught
four passes for 26 yards. At 6-6 and 219 pounds with speed,
everyone's been waiting for him to become a major playmaker. It
hasn't happened yet. With a body and athleticism that should
make him a dream in the red zone,
the hope is for everything to finally come
together behind Williams.
Junior Andre Redd is another
receiver with all the tools to be a big player in the rotation,
but without the production to back it up. He's quick with a
little bit of experience making eight catches for 83 yards two
6-4, 211-pound junior Trumaine Smith is
another big Rocket receiver with talent, but he only caught one
pass last year in six appearances. Considering his size and 4.3
speed, that has to change in a big hurry.
When Toledo goes to
four-wide sets, yet another big target, 6-5, 187-pound sophomore
Robin Bailey, will step in. Hurt for most of last year, he
didn't catch a pass. That'll change very early on. Soon to add
more speed to the mix will be recruit Tim Cortazzo with
Backing up Hopkins at tight end will be junior
John Allen, who at 6-5 and 215 pounds is smaller than some
of the wide receivers. A good receiver in two tight end sets, he
caught 11 passes for 144 yards averaging 13.1 yards per catch.
Watch Out For ... the starting lineup to change
several times, several ways. With the three and four wide sets
the Rockets use, there are plenty of opportunities for playing
time and there are more than enough great prospects to get
Strength: Size. Is there a bigger receiving corps in America? Of
the eight top options, five are over 6-4 and David Lewis is 6-2.
There are matchup nightmares all over the place.
Weakness: Can any of the great looking targets actually play?
Moore has yet to remotely resemble a number one receiver, and
there isn't any proven production to rely on right away. The
team's best receiver is Hopkins. The wide receivers have to do
Outlook: The receiving corps looks the part, and
now it has to play as good as it looks. It's an intimidating
crew with all the size and speed, but now they have to start
making more plays. If everything comes together and everyone
starts playing up to their potential, look out.
Projected Starters: There might not be a better blocker in
the MAC than 6-5, 318-pound senior John Greco, a rock of the line
for the last three years. The leader of the offense as a team captain
last season, he made the successful move from the right side to the left
without any trouble using his experience and strength to become an even
better run blocker. Everything will revolve around him.
While he's still
trying to get back into playing shape after missing last year, 6-4,
295-pound senior Jerry Aguwa is a veteran blocker who'll
immediately make a big difference in the line's pass protection.
There will be a veteran battle for the left guard spot between 6-4,
295-pound sophomore Jared Dewalt and 6-2, 308-pound senior
David Perkins. Dewalt stepped in when Perkins got hurt and did
a nice job despite struggling early on with his consistency. Even so, he
didn't play like a true freshman and now should be even better. Perkins
has the versatility to play center or guard with tremendous strength and
good mobility. Now he has to find a spot.
For the time being, 302-pound redshirt freshman Levi George will handle the job in the middle
after a strong spring, but watch for Perkins to step back in before the
start of the season. 6-6, 305-pound redshirt freshman Jan Gewont
will take over the right guard job after working his way into a
potential star up front. He'll be one of the rocks of the line over the
next four years.
Projected Top Reserves: Until Aguwa is back to
100%, massive 6-7, 310-pound redshirt freshman Chris Meenan will
play right tackle. Listed as the starter coming out of spring ball, he
has the long frame and athleticism to become a MAC star for the next
several years. He doesn't have the technique of a redshirt freshman.
6-2, 304-pound sophomore Chris Dyko will back up Gewont at right
guard, and while he doesn't have the same talent, he should be a regular
in the rotation.
Watch Out For ... the line to be far better. It
didn't do nearly enough in pass protection last season and was mediocre
for the running game. Injuries and inconsistency were the problem, and
even though several young players have to play key roles, the production
will be there.
Strength: Greco. With Dewalt and Perkins potentially combining
at left guard, if Perkins doesn't move over to center, and with Greco at
tackle, the left side should be dominant. Greco will end up being a
first-day draft pick and a possible All-American.
Weakness: Youth. Three redshirt freshmen might end up starting,
and while they're talented with great potential, they're still redshirt
freshmen. Consistency will be a problem early on unless Perkins and
Aguwa take back starting spots.
Outlook: Can the pass protection be there after
surrendering 30 sacks? It'll help with the quarterbacks making quicker,
better decisions, but they also need more time. This is a big group that
should potentially jell into one of the MAC's best as long as Perkins
and Aguwa are healthy again and Greco is Greco.