Head coach Jason Candle and his Toledo Rockets enjoyed a superb season in 2016. The Rockets won nine games last year. Toledo returns almost all of their components to one of the nation’s top offensive units in 2017. The Rockets not only have a chance to win their first MAC title since 2004, but Toledo also has a chance at being one of the top Group of 5 teams come playoff time.
The Toledo Rockets have a bunch of talent returning. That being said, the question still remains whether or not they can get past fellow MAC Conference foes Western Michigan and Miami (Ohio). Toledo has done well in the recruiting department have and have the best gunslinger in the conference, so will this be their year?
Second-year offensive coordinator Brian Wright from Montana State has plenty of weapons at his disposal. Inevitably, Toledo will field one of the more explosive units in the country. They hope for an encore performance after they averaged 38.0 points a game. Also, the Rockets led the MAC with 517.8 total yards of offense in last season.
Toledo Rockets has an experienced and very talented quarterback in Logan Woodside. The senior signal caller spreads the ball around efficiently while limiting his mistakes. Impressively, Woodside threw for over 4,000 yards with 45 touchdowns and nine interceptions last season. Also, Woodside tossed for at least three scores in every regular-season game, while connecting on 69.1 percent of his passes.
Logan Woodside has two of his top three wide outs back in the fold. Senior receiver Cody Thompson and junior Jon’Vea Johnson. Thompson had 68 grabs and 11 touchdowns, while Johnson caught 40 more passes with 10 scores.
Both dangerous play makers averaged nearly 20 yards per reception. The down side is that senior tight end Adam Kulon had just one catch for six yards last year. He has the huge task of replacing All-America tight end Michael Roberts and his 16 trips to pay-dirt.
Toledo’s all-time rushing leader Kareem Hunt has departed to Arrowhead Stadium to produce for the Chiefs. Even so, his partner in crime senior Terry Swanson returns. In 2015, Swanson earned second-team All-MAC honors with nearly 1,000 yards.
Backing Swanson up, is explosive sophomore Art Thompkins. The speedy slasher averaged 8.1 yards on his 29 carries last year. Both will be running behind a core group of five experienced players that should give the unit a strong foundation.
Defensively, Toledo was at his best against the pass but were susceptible to the run at times. That could be contributed by a lack of depth last season, as fatigued started to take its toll.
That could change with the Rockets signing several three star athletes to help Toledo up front. But what Toledo is really looking for is The Toledo defense is an all-conference performance from fifth-year senior tackle Marquise Moore. Moore has compiled 21 career starts for the Rockets. The 300-pounder had 36 stops last year and needs to become an every-down player in 2017.
The linebacker position is salty. Experienced play maker Tyler Taafe and seniors Ja’Wuan Woodley and Jack Linch all return. Woodley earned third-team All-MAC honors last year. The 5-11, 233-pound workhorse played on the weak side. He finished with 79 tackles with 3.5 sacks and 13 tackles for loss.
The strength of the Toledo defense rests in the back half. Senior Trevon Mathis, with 13 starts and 44 tackles last season is back. Junior Ka’dar Hollman also returns. Hollman recorded with eight starts and had 33 stops. Junior safety Josh Teachey will start at strong safety. He started 12 games at the hybrid Star position a year ago.
Toledo’s schedule includes Tulsa at home and the Miami Hurricanes on the road. Those two contests can present some challenges for the Rockets. To combat that, Toledo will field the MAC’s best quarterback. Also, the Rockets have tremendous depth and talent at wide receiver with a stable of productive at running back.
The Rockets defense doesn’t have to be dominating for this team to succeed. In fact, another average finish in the conference stats should do just fine. Toledo has won at least nine contests, five times in the last six seasons. Somehow, they have yet to have played in the MAC Championship Game since 2004. I fully expect that that drought could come to an end in 2017.
It might be asking too much for Toledo to get through the year unbeaten like Western Michigan did last season. I also don’t expect their 2017 run to be easy by any means. If the Rockets can win their fair share of shootouts, and if they can take advantage of their home games, they could be in the mix for a big-time bowl berth. No matter what is the case, the Rockets fans will continue to pack their stadium because there should plenty of scoring in all of their contests.
8-31 vs. Elon
9-8 @ Nevada
9-16 vs. Tulsa
9-23 @ Miami
10-7 vs. Eastern Michigan
10-14 @ Central Michigan
10-21 vs. Akron
10-26 @ Ball State
11-2 vs. Northern Illinois
11-8 @ Ohio
11-15 @ Bowling Green
11-24 vs. Western Michigan
The getmoresports.com NCAA College Football Throwdown Podcast will be returning to the air on August 24th. We will be highlighting the first five games on August 26th of the 2017 NCAA College Football season. That will be the first of three installments leading into the first week of the season. We also we will be covering our expectations for the Heisman Trophy front runners as well as predictions for conference winners and team totals.
Our second NCAA College Football Throwdown is penciled in for August 29th. In that installment, we will discussing all the games that will be played on August 31st and the 1st of September.
Our third segment will officially be airing on August 31st. In this addition of the NCAA College Football Throwdown, we will be covering all the relevant games for Sept 2nd, 3rd and 4th.
Keeping with tradition, EJ the Rainmaker and Erik the Hun will give their predictions for the contests. On top of that, we will be providing our dog play of the podcast as well as cash money plays for the week. Join us for all three opening episodes and improve your college football knowledge while increasing the size of your sports book betting account. Come join us and help everyone make it rain. #moneytreesgrow
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