#67 Toledo Football 2015 Preview

Toledo Rockets

Overall Rank: #67
#3 Mid-American

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Coach Matt Campbell has quickly built a consistent winner in Toledo. The Rockets went through the tough MAC West with a 7-1 record. That wasn’t good enough to play for a conference championship, but Toledo did finish 9-4 overall with a 63-44 win over Arkansas State in the GoDaddy Bowl. Another big year is in the cards, but this time the MAC West will be even tougher.

2014 Record: 9-4, 7-1
2014 Bowl: GoDaddy Bowl vs. Arkansas State (W 63-44)
Coach: Matt Campbell (26-13 at Toledo, 26-13 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Jason Candle
Defensive Coordinator: Jon Heacock

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Kareem Hunt, RB, 1,631 yards
Passing: Logan Woodside, QB, 2,263 yards
Receiving: Corey Jones, WR, 842 yards
Tackles: Trent Voss, DE, 77
Sacks: Orion Jones, DT, 6.0
Interceptions: Chris Dukes, CB, 2; Chaz Whittaker, S, 2

Other Key Returnees: RB Terry Swanson, QB Phillip Ely, WR Alonzo Russell, WR Kishon Wilcher, P Nick Ellis, S DeJuan Rogers, DT Treyvon Hester

Key Losses: WR Justin Olack, K Jeremiah Detmer, OL Greg Mancz, OL Josh Hendershot, OL Jeff Myers, LB Junior Sylvestre, DE Ray Bush, DB Jordan Haden

Toledo does not lack for quality skill position players. Running back Kareem Hunt returns after rushing for 1,631 yards and 16 touchdowns. Terry Swanson is an amazingly effective change of pace back after totaling 732 yards and six touchdowns on 113 carries. Those two will move the ball on the ground. At wide receiver, Alonzo Russell is the big target down field, while Corey Jones is in the slot. Together, those two combined to catch 120 passes for 1,351 yards and 13 touchdowns. The Rockets had trouble at quarterback last year due to injuries, but both Logan Woodside and Phillip Ely are back. Woodside saw most of the action last year, throwing for 2,272 yards and 19 touchdowns. Ely, who spent some time at Alabama, may just be the better talent though. On the other side of the ball, Toledo returns much of a defense that ranked 14th in the FBS in rush defense. Orion Jones and Treyvon Hester are two of the best tackles in the MAC and end Trent Voss is actually the team’s top returning tackler with 77. That is a lot of tackles for a defensive end.

The secondary was consistently torched last year and most teams in the MAC can take advantage of that. But Toledo was forced to play without Cheatham Norrils and Cameron Cole last year because of injury and the secondary was never able to recover from that. They both started in 2013 and are back after redshirting last year. Jordan Martin and Christian Dukes were thrown into the fire to replace the injured cornerbacks and at least now have plenty of game experience. It sounds like Toledo’s pass defense should be better, yet there is a long way to go to after giving up 291.7 yards per game. The one thing that could slow down the offense is the line. Four starters are gone from an underappreciated unit that paved the way for all of the skill players. If answers are not found there, the offense will not be as prolific as they were in 2014.

The Bottom Line:
The MAC West is extremely tough this year. However, the schedule works out nicely for the Rockets. They host both Northern Illinois and Western Michigan in November, the likely candidates to be right up there with Toledo at the top of the standings. The Rockets beat WMU in overtime on the road last year and lost at NIU by just three points. These will be competitive games and they will decide the MAC West.

Projected Bowl: Camellia Bowl

2014 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 256.4 (12th in nation, 1st in conference)
Passing Offense: 234.2 (59, 8)
Total Offense: 490.5 (15, 1)
Scoring Offense: 36.6 (19, 1)
Rushing Defense: 116.2 (14, 1)
Pass Defense: 291.7 (123, 13)
Total Defense: 407.9 (76, 7)
Scoring Defense: 30.5 (90, 8)
Turnover Margin: -0.23 (81, 7)
Sacks: 2.23 (55, 3)
Sacks Allowed: 1.31 (17, 3)


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