2007 Toledo Rockets

Posted Jan 21, 2008

2007 Toledo Rockets Season Game-By-Game Recaps and More

Toledo Rockets

Recap: After a dozen straight winning seasons, the Rockets have begun to mess with their reputation as a MAC powerhouse with back-to-back 5-7 campaigns.  While the Toledo offense was among the most explosive in the country, averaging a league-high 448 yards a game, the defense was a disaster, allowing 39 points a game, while manufacturing just five sacks over the last nine games.  It all added up to lots of shootouts and offensive records for the program, but not enough consistency, particularly away from the Glass Bowl, to reach .500 when the opportunity presented itself in November.                

Offensive Player of the Year: RB Jalen Parmele

Defensive Player of the Year: S Barry Church

Biggest Surprise: It was obvious that the Rockets could move the ball, but even by their lofty standards, the 70-21 demolition of Northern Illinois was an epic offensive performance.  In the rout, Toledo amassed a school-record 812 yards of offense, almost equally distributed between the passing attack and the ground game.         

Biggest Disappointment: As inconsistent as Toledo was throughout the season, there was still a chance to sneak into the back door of the postseason as late as Nov. 13.  True to their road form, however, the Rockets fizzled in trips to Ball State and Bowling Green, dropping both games by an average score of 39-15.        

Looking Ahead: Parmele needs to be replaced, but DaJuane Collins showed enough in a complimentary role to feel good about the running game in 2008.  Of course, the Rockets have learned over the last two seasons that no matter how prolific the offense is, they're an average team until the defense can make a stop every now and again.

- 2007 Toledo Preview
2006 Toledo Season

2007 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
2007 Results:

Sept. 1 Purdue L 52-24
Sept. 8 at Central Mich L 52-31
Sept. 15 at Kansas L 45-13
Sept. 22
Iowa State W 36-35
Sept. 29 Western Mich L 42-28
Oct. 6 Liberty W 35-34
Oct. 13 at Buffalo L 43-33
Oct. 20 Ohio W 43-40
Oct. 27 No Illinois W 70-21
Nov. 3 Eastern Mich W 52-28
Nov. 13 at Ball State L 41-20
Nov. 23
at B. Green L 37-10

Nov 23
Bowling Green 37 ... Toledo 10
Bowling Green took advantage of four turnovers and controlled the game throughout starting with a safety off a stuffed run followed up by an 11-yard Freddie Barnes touchdown catch. A four-yard Jeremiah Kelley touchdown grab late in the second quarter would give the Falcons all the points they'd need, and a 52-yard Kelley score put them comfortably ahead. Anthony Turner closed out a 21-point Falcon run with a  20-yard dash late in the fourth. Toledo's Nick Moore caught 11 passes for 141 yards with a 37-yard touchdown catch on the first drive of the second half.
Player of the game: Bowling Green QB Tyler Sheehan completed 20 of 34 passes for 225 yards and three touchdowns, and ran ten times for 43 yards.
Stat Leaders: Bowling Green - Passing: Tyler Sheehan, 20-34, 225 yds, 3 TD
Rushing: Anthony Turner, 19-96, 1 TD. Receiving: Freddie Barnes, 5-66, 1 TD
Toledo - Passing: Clint Cochran, 15-29, 202 yds, 1 TD, 3 INT
Jalen Parmele, 19-82 TD. Receiving: Nick Moore, 11-141, 1 TD

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ...
Missing starting QB Aaron Opelt to a foot injury proved to be a big problem for the Rockets as Clint Cochran was rusty and made too many mistakes against Bowling Green. The one-time red hot offense cooled considerably over the last two weeks just when a bowl game seemed inevitable. Now it's back to the drawing board for a defense that rarely came up with key stop and had way too many problems throughout the year against the run. 

Nov 14
Ball State 41 ... Toledo 20
Ball State broke open a tight game with 28 unanswered points on two one-yard Nate Davis touchdown runs, and 35-yard Dante Love scoring grab, and a one-yard Chris Clancy run. The Toledo offense cranked out 17 first quarter points helped by a six-yard Jalen Parmele run and a nine-yard Nick Moore catch, but Ball State stayed alive with a 27-yard touchdown grab from Darius Hill and a 39-yard scoring catch from Love. After a Toledo field goal, the Ball State defense put the clamps down on the Rocket offense led by Alex Knipp, who made 15 tackles with an interception. Greg Hay made 16 stops for the Rockets.
Player of the game: Ball State WR Dante Love caught five passes for 128 yards and two touchdowns
Stat Leaders: Ball State - Passing: Nate Davis, 14-20, 265 yds, 3 TD
Rushing: Chris Clancy, 13-103, 1 TD. Receiving: Darius Hill, 6-91, 1 TD
Toledo - Passing: Aaron Opelt,  20-30, 203 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT
Jalen Parmele, 24-123, 1 TD. Receiving: Stephen Williams, 9-135

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... After rolling for weeks, the Toledo offense finally hit a wall just after the first quarter against Ball State. Jalen Parmele ran well, but Aaron Opelt couldn't open up the passing game and couldn't get the offense going on any long, sustained drives in the second half. Now that a bowl bid is all but gone, the team needs to somehow find the intensity to beat Bowling Green on the road to avoid a second straight losing season.

Nov 3
Toledo 52 ... Eastern Michigan 28
Toledo cranked out 600 yards of total offense, and it needed most of them despite getting out to a 28-7 first half lead on Jalen Parmele touchdown runs from 31 and 29 yards out, and touchdown catches from 20 and 64 yards away from Stephen Williams. Eastern Michigan's Pierre Walker went nuts with 168 yards and scoring runs from one yard, three yards and one yard out to help make it interesting. But every time the Eagles made if close, Toledo pulled away. Parmele finished with three touchdown runs and DaJuane Collins added two rushing touchdowns as the Rocket rolled up 324 yards on the ground.
Player of the game: Toledo RB Jalen Parmele ran 22 times for 168 yards and three touchdowns.
Stat Leaders: Eastern Michigan - Passing: Andy Schmitt, 10-17, 111 yds, 1 TD
Rushing: Pierre Walker, 22-93, 3 TD. Receiving: Tyler Jones, 5-54
Toledo - Passing: Aaron Opelt, 17-29, 276 yds, 2 TD
Jalen Parmele, 22-168, 3 TD. Receiving: Stephen Williams, 6-150, 2 TD

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... The Toledo offense is a machine at the moment with 1,412 yards in the last two weeks. Aaron Opelt has been flawless throwing the ball, the combination of Jalen Parmele and DaJuane Collins are running wild, and most importantly, the team is winning. The Rockets, on a three-game winning streak, now have a bowl game within reach, but they have to deal with Ball State and Bowling Green on the road. Get ready for shootouts.

Oct. 27
Toledo 70 ... Northern Illinois 21
Toledo set a MAC record with 812 yards of total offense, running for 382 and passing for 430, while rolling with ease from the start. Aaron Opelt threw three first quarter touchdown passes, ran for a one-yard score in the second, and threw a fourth scoring pass, on the way to a 35-0 Rocket lead less than 21 minutes into the game. Nick Moore caught three of the passes, scoring from 33, 33 and 29 yards. The running game took over from then on with Gordon Warner running for three scores and Jalen Parmele and DaJuane Collins each getting a short touchdown. NIU got a 28-yard Britt Davis touchdown catch to break the first half run, and a six-yard Justin Anderson touchdown to open the second half.
Player of the game: Toledo QB Aaron Opelt completed 22 of 28 passes for 387 yards and four touchdowns, and ran for a score
Stat Leaders: Northern Illinois - Passing: Dan Nicholson, 11-23, 155 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Justin Anderson, 24-116, 1 TD. Receiving: Britt Davis, 4-81, 1 TD
Toledo - Passing: Aaron Opelt, 22-28, 387 yds, 4 TD
DaJuane Collins, 15-132, 1 TD. Receiving: Nick Moore, 7-145, 3 TD

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... 812 yards of total offense?! Northern Illinois didn't have a prayer with three Rockets running for 50 yards or more, but most importantly, Aaron Opelt might have had his breakout performance with 387 yards and four touchdowns in a flawless first half. Now the Rockets have to build on this and come up with a win over Eastern Michigan in the home finale. A winning season is still very possible if the offense can click close to this well again.

Oct. 20
Toledo 43 ... Ohio 40
A wild game with a 42-point fourth quarter ended on a 40-yard Alex Steigerwald field goal with no time left to give Toledo the win. Down 11 with just under seven minutes to play, Ohio rallied to tie it with a 40-yard Michael Braunstein field goal and with 1:45 to go, a 36-yard Andrew Mooney touchdown catch followed up by the two-point conversion. Two of the nation's most productive backs were on display, and they didn't disappoint, as Ohio's Kalvin McRae ran for 182 yards with touchdown runs from 65, 65 and 6 yards out, and Toledo's Jalen Parmele running for 243 yards scoring touchdowns from one yard and 45 yards away. In the end, Ohio's 560 yards of total offense were offset by seven turnovers.
Player of the game: Toledo RB Jalen Parmele ran 26 times for 243 yards and two touchdowns
Stat Leaders: Ohio - Passing: Brad Bower, 9-17, 163 yds, 1 TD, 4 INT
Rushing: Kalvin McRae, 25-182, 3 TD. Receiving: Taylor Price, 3-69, 1 TD
Toledo - Passing: Aaron Opelt, 17-33, 176 yds, 1 TD
Jalen Parmele, 36-243, 2 TD. Receiving: Stephen Williams, 7-90

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Considering all of Toledo's recent woes, a win is a win is a win, even if the defense didn't have a prayer of slowing down Ohio without the seven turnovers. Jalen Parmele was fantastic, and he'll have to be with the passing game still inconsistent and struggling. As bad as things have been, at 3-5, with home dates against bad Northern Illinois and Eastern Michigan teams up next, being 5-5 is a must before facing Ball State.

Oct. 13
Buffalo 43 ... Toledo 33
James Starks tore off touchdown runs from 45 and nine yards out, Ernest Jackson caught a 75-yard touchdown pass, and Naaman Roosevelt recovered a fumble for a score in a 28-point first half, and cruised from there. Toledo got within ten points midway though the third quarter on a five-yard Chris Hopkins catch, but Starks put it out of reach with a 36-yard touchdown run. Toledo rolled up 526 yards of total offense, but never got close.
Player of the game: Buffalo RB James Starks ran 35 times for 244 yards and three touchdowns.
Stat Leaders: Buffalo - Passing: Drew Willy, 8-16, 172 yds, 3 TD
Rushing: James Starks, 35-244, 3 TD. Receiving: Earnest Jackson, 4-107, 2 TD
Toledo - Passing: D.J. Lenehan, 32-50, 307 yds, 3 TD, 1 INT
Jalen Parmele, 29-171, 1 TD. Receiving: Stephen Williams, 15-172, 2 TD

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ...
The offense cranked out a ton of yards against Buffalo, but it was too late. The defense's inability to stop James Starks, or come up with a big stop in the first quarter, made it a blowout, and even with D.J. Lenehan bombing away, and Jalen Parmele having yet another great game, it didn't matter. Now the season has completely gone into the tank, and only a five-game winning streak to end the season would change it.

Oct. 6
Toledo 35 ... Liberty 34
Liberty appeared on the verge of pulling off a shocker, taking a 34-22 lead into the fourth quarter, but Jalen Parmele took over with two of his four scores on the day, running it in from four and five yards out to take the lead late. Liberty had one final drive, but it stalled, and the Rockets were able to hold on. LU got a huge day from Rashard Jennings, who scored from two and 63 yards out, but Parmele was too much, scoring on a 28-yard pass and a one-yard run to finish with four scores and 202 yards of total offense.
Player of the game: Toledo RB Jalen Parmele ran 30 times for 169 yards and three touchdowns, and caught two passes for 33 yards and a score
Stat Leaders: Liberty - Passing: B. Smith, 10-19, 101 yds, 1 TD
Rushing: Rashard Jennings, 24-160, 2 TD. Receiving: W. Jackson, 8-87, 1 TD
Toledo - Passing: D.J. Lenehan, 19-23, 226 yds, 1 TD, 2 INT
Jalen Parmele, 30-169, 3 TD. Receiving: Andrew Hawkins, 7-49
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... The season might be crashing for Toledo, but a loss to Liberty would've sent things spiraling even quicker downward. The running of Jalen Parmele, and the emergence of the defense in the fourth quarter, saved the day, but the real story was the play of freshman QB D.J. Lenehan. He threw a pick six, along with another interception, but he only misfired on two other throws all day, helping the Rockets control the clock throughout. Overall, penalties were a problem, committing ten for 88 yards.

Sept. 29
Western Michigan 42 ... Toledo 28
Western Michigan ran for 280 yards, with Brandon West and Mark Bonds each going over 100, and each scoring twice as part of a 28 point mid-game run for a 35-14 lead. Toledo kept fighting, getting a late 35-yard Jalen Parmele touchdown run, and a 15-yard Andrew Hawkins score, but it wasn't nearly enough. WMU held on to the ball for 37:48.
Player of the game: Western Michigan RBs Brandon West and Mark Bonds combined for 245 yards and three touchdowns on 51 carries.
Stat Leaders: Western Michigan - Passing: Tim Hiller, 21-29, 229 yds, 3 TD
Rushing: Mark Bonds, 26-143, 2 TD. Receiving: Herb Martin, 7-71
Toledo - Passing: Clint Cochran, 7-12, 112 yds
Jalen Parmele, 20-130, 1 TD. Receiving: Nick Moore, 4-110, 1 TD
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... The running game worked well against Western Michigan, but with Clint Cochran in for Aaron Opelt, there wasn't nearly enough consistency in the passing game. Ten penalties and two key turnovers didn't help the cause, but if the defense is going to continue to struggle so much, there needs to be more offensive explosion. That's what the Liberty and Buffalo games will be for.

Sept. 22
Toledo 36 ... Iowa State 35
Iowa State got a one-yard J.J. Bass touchdown run with 5:25 to play for a seemingly comfortable 35-24 lead, but Toledo's Jalen Parmele returned the ensuing kickoff 82 yards for a touchdown to pull the Rockets within five. After the UT defense held, Iowa State botched a punt, with the fumble recovered by Greg Hay for a score and the 36-35 lead. Iowa State marched into field goal range, but a 38-yard attempt was blocked. Parmele started off the scoring on a 13-yard runs, and Aaron Opelt ran for a one-yard score and threw a 42-yard touchdown pass to keep the Rockets alive. The Cyclones got a ten-yard Bass touchdown run late in the first quarter, and three Bret Meyer touchdown passes.
Player of the game: Toledo RB Jalen Parmele ran 16 times for 74 yards and a touchdown, and retuned three kickoffs for 140 yards and a touchdown.
Stat Leaders: Iowa State - Passing: Bret Meyer, 24-33, 251 yds, 3 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: J.J. Bass, 34-134, 2 TD. Receiving: Todd Blythe, 7-77, 1 TD
Toledo - Passing: Aaron Opelt, 19-27, 199 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT
Jalen Parmele, 16-74, 1 TD. Receiving: Stephen Williams, 6-113, 1 TD

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... It might not have been pretty, but after the way the season has started, Toledo will take a win any way it can get one. Iowa State's offense outplayed the UT attack by 100 yards, but three turnovers and the special teams collapse at the end gave the Rockets the win. The quarterback situation might be a big more settled. Aaron Opelt wasn't great, but he rebounded nicely from the Kansas debacle, while Jalen Permele saved the day with his kickoff return, along with his running. This is exactly what the team needed going into the Western Michigan game that needs to kickstart the MAC season, which already has a loss.

Sept. 15
Kansas 45 ... Toledo 13
Kansas rolled with ease, getting out to an early 17-0 lead, and finally stopping the ugliness with a 26-yard Dexton Field touchdown catch late in the third quarter for a 45-7 lead. Todd Reesing threw four touchdown passes to four different receivers, and Brandon McAnderson added third quarter scoring runs from 26 and three yards out. Toledo's only highlight came on a 21-yard touchdown pass from WR Nick Moore to QB Aaron Opelt on the first play following a KU misfire on fourth down. The Rockets only managed 77 passing yards and nine first downs.
Player of the game: Kansas QB Todd Reesing threw for 313 yards and four scores on 16-of-35 passing, adding 19 yards on 11 carries on the ground.
Stat Leaders: Toledo - Passing: Aaron Opelt, 10-19, 38 yds, 3 INTs
Rushing: DaJuane Collins, 14-102, 1 TD. Receiving: Chris Hopkins, 4-20
Kansas - Passing: Todd Reesing, 16-35, 313 yds, 4 TDs
Jake Sharp, 13-127. Receiving: Marcus Henry, 7-133, 1 TD

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Just when it seemed like Aaron Opelt was the final answer to the quarterback issues, he goes out and throw for 38 yards and three interceptions against Kansas. The offense might be inconsistent, but the running game was working well for a few stretches. The main problem continues to be a defense that can't get a meaningful stop, with the secondary struggling the most despite a decent pass rush to hurry things up. Right now, the team needs to find something it can do well defensively, and a little bit of consistency offensively.

Sept. 8
Central Michigan 52 ... Toledo 38
Central Michigan blew open a 31-31 game with 21 unanswered points in the fourth quarter as Ontario Sneed ran for two scores and Bryan Anderson caught Dan LeFevour's second touchdown pass of the day. The two teams traded punches for three quarters with CMU getting two LeFevour rushing touchdowns and a 15-yard Sneed dash, while Toledo's main highlight was a 47-yard touchdown pass from WR Nick Moore to Stephen Williams. Moore also caught a four-yard touchdown pass to help Aaron Opelt riddle the CMU defense for 334 passing yards.
Player of the game ... Central Michigan RB Ontario Sneed ran 29 times for 168 yards and three touchdowns and caught three passes for 44 yards.
Stat Leaders: Central Michigan - Passing: Dan LeFevour, 22-32, 244 yds, 2 TD
Rushing: Ontatio Sneed, 29-168, 3 TD  Receiving: Antonio Brown, 9-105, 1 TD
Toledo - Passing: Aaron Opelt, 25-41, 334 yds, 2 TD
Jalen Parmele, 22-66   Receiving: Stephen Williams, 6-157, 1 TD

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Toledo's defense has now fallen off the map late in two straight games. That's not a plus with the suddenly high-powered Kansas team ahead. The quarterback situation appears to have been settled, at least for now, with Aaron Opelt having a whale of a game against Central Michigan, but he'll have to be better in the second half considering the way the defense has melted down. Getting more out of the running game to crank out some long late drives would be a plus.

Sept. 1
Purdue 52 ... Toledo 24
Curtis Painter threw four touchdown passes to four different receivers highlighted by a 80-yard play by Dustin Keller for an early 14-7 lead. The Rockets tied it up on a four-yard Jalen Parmele touchdown run, but Purdue would answer with a 24-point run to put the game away. Even when the Rockets showed a sign of life, like with a 44-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter, the Boilermakers responded as Dorien Bryant returned the ensuing kickoff for a touchdown.
Player of the game ... Purdue QB Curtis Painter completed 14 of 30 passes for 244 yards and four touchdowns and ran twice for three yards
Stat Leaders: Purdue - Passing: Curtis Painter, 14-30, 244 yds, 4 TD
Rushing: Kory Sheets, 11-90, 1 TD  Receiving: Dustin Keller, 3-107, 1 TD
Toledo - Passing: Clint Cochran, 9-14, 83 yds, 1 INT
Jalen Parmele, 24-93, 1 TD   Receiving:
Nick Moore, 5-44
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Playing against an offense like Purdue's is hardly a good measure to see where the defense is at, but it would've been nice if the Rockets could've come up with a few stops just to get a little confidence before a vital showdown against Central Michigan. The rushing punch of Jalen Parmele and DaJuane Collins was effective, but the passing game needed more pop. Aaron Opelt struggled way too much, meaning it might be Clint Cochran's show to run next week.

Sept. 1 - Purdue
The Purdue offense was like a big budge action movie with a ton of fireworks and explosions, but had a plot that goes nowhere. It cranked out yards in bunches but did absolutely nothing against the big boys scoring three points against Wisconsin, seven against Maryland, 17 against Iowa, and was shut out by Penn State. It'll be in the top ten in the nation in yards again with Curtis Painter getting a jaw-dropping good receiving corps to work with led by the amazing Dorien Bryant in the slot. The 1-2 rushing punch of Jaycen Taylor and Kory Sheets is the best yet in the Joe Tiller era, while the right side of the line, Sean Sester at tackle and Jordan Grimes at guard, along with center Robbie Powell, will be dominant. The left side of the line is a concern and there's no developed depth anywhere, but the starting 11 should move the ball at will.
Defense: The Boilermakers haven't played defense for two years, and now the hope is for experience to turn into production with nine starters returning. Stopping the run will be priority one after finishing last in the Big Ten allowing 191 yards per game. The porous secondary should be better with all the young, inexperienced prospects of last year ready to shine as veterans. Overall, the pillow-soft D needs to find a nasty streak and start to play far tougher.

Sept. 8 – at Central Michigan
Defense: Statistically, the defense struggled throughout last year. Actually, it wasn't that bad as many of the numbers came when the game was already decided. This year's D doesn't have a Dan Bazuin up front, but it has Steven Friend leading a group of good tackles, while there should be a good rotation of ends. The linebacking corps gets better with Ike Brown back from the knee injury that cost him almost all of last year, while the secondary gets three starters back, along with promising corner Chaz West. This won't be a rock of a defense, but it'll be good enough to win another title with.
Offense: Thanks to the emergence of quarterback Dan LeFevour, the offense went from decent to ultra-efficient, leading the MAC in yards and scoring. The passing game became fantastic, and the ground game, while not always getting enough from the backs, hit home run after home run. Now there will be more running from the backs, especially Ontario Sneed and Notre Dame transfer Justin Hoskins, and less running from LeFevour. The receiving corps is good enough for LeFevour to spread the ball around to several different targets. The line won't be as good as last year, after losing two key starters, but it'll be fine.

Sept. 15 – at Kansas
Offense: After spending last year running the ball, new offensive coordinator Ed Warinner will try to stretch the field more with a big, experienced group of receivers. The big question will be who the quarterback will be throwing to them. Sophomores Kerry Meier and Todd Reesing are talented, mobile passers who can do a little of everything well, but they'll be in a battle for the starting job up until the opener. The other big question mark is at running back, where Jon Cornish and his 1,457 yards and eight scores will be replaced by Jake Sharp (fast) and Brandon McAnderson (powerful). The line is nothing special, but the tackles are experienced and solid.
The defense had to go through a little bit of a rebuilding phase last season, and while the overall results weren't terrific, and too many yards were allowed, it wasn't as bad as it might have appeared. The secondary gave up more yards than anyone in America, but it gets Aqib Talib back at corner to go along with an upgrade in speed at the other three spots. The linebacking corps, by design, is small on the outside with a slew of safety-sized defenders designed to fly to the ball. They have to hold up better when they're getting pounded on. James McClinton is a star at tackle who should set the tone for the front seven.

Sept. 22 - Iowa State
Offense: Bret Meyer might be the Big 12's best quarterback, Todd Blythe is an All-America caliber receiver leading a good corps, and in time, Jason Scales and JUCO transfer J.J. Bass will be strong runners. None of it will matter if the line doesn't go from abysmal to at least mediocre. That might be a problem with four starters gone and no developed depth whatsoever. The team will rely on a slew of JUCO transfer and career benchwarmers to patch together a front five that will try to allow fewer than the 38 sacks given up last year. Expect Meyer to be everything for the offense with the passing game front and center early on. Because of the concerns on the line, Meyer will use his mobility to try to buy time and get the ball out of his hands quicker while on the move.
Defense: A complete and total disaster last season, defensive coordinator Wayne Bolt has his work cut out for him with a mediocre collection of talents and few obvious stars to build around other than outside linebackers Alvin Bowen and Jon Banks. The defensive front should be more aggressive and better at getting into the backfield, but will the lack of size cost them in the running game? For a while, yes. The secondary is the bigger concern after giving up yards in bunches and without a true number one cover-corner to count on. Linebacker is the strength to build around, and it could be even better if Adam Carper returns ready to go from a knee injury.

Sept. 29 – Western Michigan
Offense: The parts are there, and now the production has to come. The offensive line, led by center Robbie Krutilla and three other starters, will be one of the best in the MAC, and it should give the quarterback all the time in the world. Now the question is who that'll be. Thomas Peregrin and Tim Hiller will each likely see time this year, and either one can be a star. The receiving corps will be serviceable, and it needs tight end Branden Ledbetter to grow into an even more prominent target, and has to hope several speedy newcomers can play right away, for more pop. Mark Bonds is a steady 1,000-yard back who'll combine with Brandon West for a nice 1-2 punch. Everything's in place. There's no excuse for the attack to be as average as it was last year.
Offense: It's not a big D, but it's very quick, very disruptive, and very good. After a big year, the MAC's number one defense gets eight starters back. The line will get in the backfield early and often with the return of Zach Davidson and big-play tackles Nick Varcadipane and Cory Flom. The secondary is loaded with speed and experience with all four starters returning after helping the D pick off 24 passes. The big concern is at outside linebacker after losing Ameer Ismail and Paul Tithof, but Austin Pritchard is a rising star and Dustin Duclo is good in the middle.

Oct. 6 - Liberty

Oct. 13 – at Buffalo
Offense: The overall offensive production improved from ten points per game to 18.33. Now the attack has to be more consistent and explosive, and that all comes from the offensive line. It's a big, experienced line that has to give the promising skill players a chance to do their thing. UB can win with QB Drew Willy and RB James Starks, but they haven't had any chance to show what they can do with no time or room to work. Naaman Roosevelt has to be used somewhere. If he's not the starting quarterback, he'll provide a boost to a mediocre receiving corps.
Defense: Last year was a big transition year with several young players getting time as the scheme was switched from a 4-2-5 to a 4-3. Size is sacrificed for speed almost everyone, but there are big backups at tackle. Now the production against the run has to be better. Getting into the backfield won't be an issue as UB could be among the MAC's leaders in sacks and tackles for loss led by senior Trevor Scott on the end. The secondary has the potential to be far better if safeties Kareem Byrom and Mike Newton, along with rising corner Kendric Hawkins, can spend all their time trying to make plays against the pass instead of always having to deal with the run.

Oct. 20 - Ohio
Offense: You know the fastball is coming, but can you hit it? Ohio will try to add more passing to the attack, but this is a running team that'll pound away with Kalvin McRae behind a good, though not as good as last year, offensive line. The attack has to be more versatile after being stuck in the mud against the good teams on the schedule, and that's where new starting quarterback Brad Bower comes in. He'll be looking to add more passing to the mix, but he doesn't have a great receiving corps to work with. The tight ends will get more involved this year to try to keep things moving.
Defense: The defense made a night-and-day improvement from 2005, and should be among the best in the MAC again if replacements can be found for the three star linebackers and All-MAC corner T.J. Wright. The defensive line is big and active, and it needs to be stronger against the run. Getting into the backfield won't be a problem with All-MAC end Jameson Hartke leading the way. The safeties will be fantastic leading a deep and talented group. It's all up to the linebackers, who have talent, but are relatively inexperienced and haven't stayed healthy.

Oct. 27 - Northern Illinois
Offense: New offensive coordinator Roy Wittke will put his stamp on the attack early on with more passing plays, more variety, and more funky motions and formations. That'll all mean more from the passing game, and while it wasn't ignored last year, it was mostly used when Garrett Wolfe was either tired or shut down. Six starters return, but this is still a young group with only two seniors on the depth chart. The line was a problem this spring, but it's very big with the potential to be great ... next year. There will be a steady rotation of backs, led mostly by Montell Clanton and Justin Anderson, and more passes spread around, with Britt Davis the number one target. Dan Nicholson has to be a steady leader of the show.
Defense: The NIU defense is steady with several good, sound players, but for all the quickness and all the athleticism, there weren't nearly enough big plays, not enough production from the secondary, and a good, but not great, year against the run. While the corners will be better, expect more of the same from the front seven; for good and bad. End Larry English and tackle Craig Rusch will be regulars in the backfield. This won't be the nation's 90th ranked defense again, and it'll do a good job of bending, but not breaking.

Nov. 3 - Eastern Michigan
Offense: EMU's defense hasn't been productive in years, but if there's not a major improvement this year with ten starters returning along with a slew of experienced depth, it might never happen. Junior Daniel Holtzclaw is a superstar middle linebacker who'll be the one the rest of the defense revolves around. Tackles Jason Jones and Josh Hunt can't stop the run, but they're regulars in opposing backfields. As long as the corners and ends start to produce, and the experience and quickness at all spots makes up for a general lack of size, things should be better after finishing 116th in the nation against run and 98th in total defense.
Defense: New offensive coordinator Scott Ispohording has his work cut out for him despite getting seven starters back along with a ton of experienced depth. The supposed wide-open offense was awful with no ground game from the running backs and even less of a passing attack with quarterbacks Andy Schmitt and Tyler Jones basically running, running and running some more. The line should be better with three returning starters and a decent interior, but the offense won't go anywhere unless Pierre Walker, or possible Jones, turns into a reliable tailback. The loss of top receiver Eric Deslauriers means the passing game will be spread out among several options with the hope for former quarterback Dontayo Gage to turn into a true number one.

Nov. 13 – at Ball State
Offense: The offense grew into something special as Nate Davis emerged as one of the MAC's star passers. He should be even better after surviving his true freshman season, and with four starters returning on the line, he should have more time to operate. The receiving corps should be fantastic led by tight end Darius Hill and receiver Dante Love, who's growing into a good number one target. Don't expect too much from the running game even with the expected emergence of quick sophomore MiQuale Lewis.
Defense: Awful for the last two seasons, the defense started to get a little better as last year went on and should make even bigger strides with plenty of experience returning. Six starters are back, and most of the new starters have seen enough time to be ready to hit the ground running. The 3-4 is good at getting into the backfield, but there haven't been enough sacks and not nearly enough consistent production against power running teams. The pass defense has been non-existent for the last two seasons. Corners Trey Lewis and Trey Buice have been around, and can hit, but if they don't cover better, the Cardinals won't be able to take the next step.

Nov. 23 – at Bowling Green
Offense: The offense went from being all-pass, no-run in 2005 to being a running team last year thanks to mobile quarterbacks in Anthony Turner, and early on, Freddie Barnes. Now there's a battle between Turner and Tyler Sheehan for the starting job with the hopes of balancing things out. The backfield should be excellent with the addition of JUCO transfer Eric Ransom to go along with power of Chris Bullock and Dan Macon. All-star center Kory Lichtensteiger leads a a good line that should get better and better as the year goes on. The one area of development will be receiver with some deep threats needing to emerge to go along with mid-range possession-target Corey Partridge.
Defense: Bowling Green might not always be a brick wall on defense, but it will do whatever it can to make plays all over the field. Last year this was a break-but-don't bend defense giving up points, but not yards. Now it needs to stiffen. With an emphasis on speed and quickness, the front seven will be flying around looking to get into the backfield to dictate the tempo, while the solid secondary will benefit. There might be problems against the better power running teams with a new set of tackles and smallish linebacking corps, but that'll be offset by the big plays ... at least that's the hope.



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