2009 CFN Toledo Preview |
2009 Toledo Offense
2009 Toledo Defense |
2009 Toledo Depth
2008 Toledo Preview |
2007 Toledo Preview |
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Head coach: Tim Beckman
Off. 21, Def. 32, ST 4
Lettermen Lost: 7
Best Rocket Players
2. LB Archie Donald, Jr.
3. WR Stephen Williams, Sr.
Lester Richmond, Sr.
5. QB Aaron Opelt, Sr.
6. RB DaJuane
7. RB Morgan Williams, So.
8. PK Alex
9. OT Mike VanDerMeulen, Soph.
Jermaine Robinson, Fr.
CFN Prediction: 5-7
9/5 at Purdue
9/19 Ohio State
9/26 at FIU
10/3 at Ball State
10/10 Western Mich
10/17 No. Illinois
10/31 at Miami Univ.
11/11 at Central Mich
11/20 Eastern Mich
CFN Prediction: 7-5
2008 Record: 3-9
8/30 OPEN DATE
9/6 at Arizona L 41-16
9/13 at East. Mich W
9/20 Fresno St L 55-54 2OT
9/27 FIU L 35-16
10/4 Ball State L 31-0
10/11 at Michigan W 13-10
10//18 at No Illinois L 38-10
10/25 Central Mich
11/5 at Akron L 47-30
11/15 at West Mich L 27-17
11/20 Miami Univ. W
11/28 Bo. Green L
There isn't an issue
with talent going into the year with as many All-MAC candidates as
anyone in the MAC (outside of Central Michigan). There isn't an issue
with experience with a mere seven lettermen lost and almost all the key
starters returning. The issue will be with the coaching with Tom Amstutz
gone and Tim Beckman coming in to a great situation.
wildly successful up until a few years ago, with Toledo being among the
MAC elite year after year after year. And then the bottom dropped out as
the offense suddenly became wildly inconsistent and the defense was
shockingly bad at getting to the quarterback. After three straight
losing seasons it became time for some new blood and some new coaching,
and Beckman might have stepped into a gold mine.
The Rockets are
loaded. Beyond loaded. They have an abundance of experience in most key
spots with next-level talent at receiver and in the defensive back
seven. The lines are mediocre, but the skill players are fantastic and
the linebackers can run. The special teams will be a focus and the
return game and coverage teams have to improve, but the kicking game is
solid with PK Alex Steigerwald a star and P Bill Claus improving.
The key will be consistency. There's more than enough firepower to
keep up with anyone on the schedule, but there can't be the mystifying
lulls like there were last season against Florida International (a 35-16
loss), Ball State (a 31-0 loss), and Bowling Green (a 38-10 loss).
Defensively, Beckman needs his fast, athletic team to make more big
plays, get into the backfield on a regular basis, and play up to its
It's absolutely possible for this team to go from
the outhouse to the MAC championship in one year. In fact, it needs to
be demanded for a team that's been building to this spot for a few
years. The times might have been lean for the once mighty power, but
Beckman should be able to provide just the change needed to bring back
the glory days.
What to watch for on offense:
The up-tempo spread. Everyone's doing the same thing
now, trying to run the Oklahoma offense with a fast-paced attack, but
Toledo has the veterans to actually do it. Aaron Opelt has been the
starting quarterback for the last three years and knows his receivers,
while DaJuane Collins and Morgan Williams should run wild with bigger
holes to cut through. This was a high-powered offense to begin with, and
now it could explode.
What to watch for on defense: Barry Church as a
linebacker. The all-star, NFL-bound safety will be used to do more as
the team's third linebacker. The Rockets had a 4-2-5 alignment over the
last few years, with a Rover being used as a part safety and part
linebacker. Now, Church will be all over the place as a pass rusher and
in pass coverage. He should put up huge numbers.
The team will be far better if … the defense gets a sack.
Ten. Ten sacks. Getting to the quarterback has been a major problem for
a long time, and the trickle down effect continued with ten sacks
leading to a rough year for the talented secondary while putting more
pressure on the linebackers. The line isn't big with the starting
foursome averaging a linebacker-like 250 pounds per man. If the D is
going to sacrifice size, it needs to make up for it with plays in the
The Schedule: As always, the Rockets are taking on a nasty
non-conference schedule, at least in theory. Going to Purdue for the
start of the Danny Hope era will be a good test for Tim Beckman and his
new coaching staff, while home date with Colorado will be a good chance
to make a big statement. The Ohio State game will be in Cleveland, while
the date with FIU, which Toledo lost last year, will be down in Miami.
In MAC play, getting Bowling Green, Temple, and Miami University from
the East isn't a plus, but it's not horrible considering how much weaker
the other division is. The conference schedule starts out at Ball State,
but this isn't the same Cardinal team as last year while the showdown
with Central Michigan is in Mount Pleasant. On the plus side, there's a
nice three-game home stretch in October highlighted by the big games
against Western Michigan and Northern Illinois.
Best Offensive Player:
Senior WR Stephen Williams. The 6-5, 199-pound star
needs 72 catches to be the program's all-time leading receiver. While
he'll be used more on deep routes to take advantage of his size, speed,
and experience, he'll still be a key target on short to midrange plays.
Moving to the outside, he'll hit a couple of long home runs.
Best Defensive Player:
Barry Church. The 6-2, 219-pound star has done it all so far in his
career but win. He'll do whatever it takes to help the defense and the
team in his final year before going off to the NFL, and that means
moving to linebacker where he'll do more against the run and be able to
show off his range into the backfield more often.
Key player to a
successful season: Senior DE Sean Williamson ... or junior DE/LB
Derrick Summers. The Rocket ends have to star hitting quarterbacks to
help the entire defense. Williamson missed last year with a leg problem
and Summers is moving to the line from linebacker. These two need to
start generating pressure early on or else the coaching staff will have
to go to a plan B.
The season will be a
success if ... Toledo wins the MAC title.
The schedule isn't a walk in the park and the team has to turn the
switch on after three bad years, but the experience and talent is there
to make this a special year. The new coaching staff will only be a plus,
and if it doesn't step on itself trying to make big changes to a team
that needs more tweaking than a massive overhaul, winning the MAC
championship is a reasonable goal.
Key game: Oct. 3 at Ball State.
Nate Davis is gone and Ball State is vastly different than it was last
season, but it would make a big early statement in the Beckman era to
pull off a win in the MAC opener, especially because it's on the road.
With a road trip to Central Michigan to deal with, and with Northern
Illinois and Western Michigan still to play, the Rockets will be playing
from behind all year if they can't get by the Cardinals.
2008 Fun Stats:
Opponents 16 for 125 yards - Toledo 10 for 77 yards
- Kickoff return
average: Opponents 25.4 yards - Toledo 20.4 yards
return average: Toledo 18.1 yards (on 10 picks) - Opponents 5.4 yards
(on eight picks)