#54 Toledo Football 2017 Preview

Toledo Rockets
Overall Rank: #54
#1 Mid-American
If anybody is going to unseat Western Michigan from their perch atop the MAC West, it will likely be Toledo. The Rockets had a shot at knocking off the Broncos in the regular season finale last year, but lost 55-35 in Kalamazoo. This time around it might be Western Michigan trying to ruin Toledo’s big season.
2016 Record: 9-4, 6-2
2016 Bowl: Camellia Bowl vs. Appalachian State (L 28-31)
Coach: Jason Candle (10-4 at Toledo, 10-4 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Brian Wright
Defensive Coordinator: Brian George
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Terry Swanson, RB, 583 yards
Passing: Logan Woodside, QB, 4,129 yards
Receiving: Cody Thompson, WR, 1,269 yards
Tackles: Ja’Wuan Woodley, LB, 79
Sacks: Olasunkanmi Adeniyi, DE, 4.0
Interceptions: Trevon Mathis, CB, 1; Aaron Covington, CB, 1
Other Key Returnees: WR Jon’Vea Johnson, CB Ka’dar Hollman
Key Losses: RB Kareem Hunt, WR Corey Jones, TE Michael Roberts, OL Strom Norton, OL Mike Ebert, DB DeJuan Rogers, DL John Stepec, DL Treyvon Hester, DB Connery Swift
There is no lack of experience and talent on the Toledo offense. Quarterback Logan Woodside returns after leading the Rockets to the seventh most productive offense in the country, garnering 517.8 yards of total offense per game. Woodside threw for 4,129 yards and 45 touchdowns in 2016 and completed an amazing 69.1 percent of his passes. Nobody in the FBS ranks threw more touchdowns than Woodside. Cody Thompson and Jon’Vea Johnson will again be the beneficiaries of Woodside’s stellar arm. Both are big play receivers who averaged more than 19 yards per catch. Thompson caught 64 passes for 1,269 yards and 11 scores, while Johnson added 40 receptions for 773 yards and ten scores. Toledo’s career rushing leader, Kareem Hunt, is gone after tallying 1,475 yards on the ground during his senior season. That may be a loss, but senior Terry Swanson has been a great backup rusher and is more than ready to take on a larger workload.  
The defensive front four will work around nose tackle Marquise Moore. He is a beast on the line and Toledo will need some others to step up around him. Olasunkanmi Adeniyi, who tallied 4.0 sacks as a sophomore, should be able to get some pressure in the opposing backfield, but the Rockets still need to improve on their 1.62 sacks per game. With Ja’Wuan Woodley and Tyler Taafe leading an experienced and aggressive group of linebackers, the sack total should improve this year. Those two combined to tally 149 tackles and 4.0 sacks last season. The back end of the defense will be led by experienced cornerbacks Trevon Mathis and Ka’dar Hollman. Josh Teachey will move to strong safety to provide that unit with some experience in an effort to replace DeJaun Rogers and Connery Swift. There are a few questions on the line and in the secondary, but Coach Jason Candle is starting to build depth and there will be enough options to adequately fill in the gaps.
The Bottom Line:
Toledo has a couple tough non-conference road games against Nevada and Miami (FL). For a team with the offensive firepower of Toledo, Nevada is certainly a very winnable road contest. If they can get past Nevada and a home date with Tulsa, the Rockets will be set up for a huge game against the Hurricanes on September 23rd. A win there and Toledo will be getting national attention. A 4-0 start may be relatively unlikely though and a MAC title, not an undefeated season, is the much more reasonable goal.
Projected Bowl: Bahamas Bowl
2016 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 195.07 (46th in nation, 4th in conference)
Passing Offense: 322.8 (10, 1)
Total Offense: 517.8 (7, 1)
Scoring Offense: 38.0 (19, 2)
Rushing Defense: 175.8 (67, 7)
Pass Defense: 220.8 (56, 5)
Total Defense: 396.5 (57, 6)
Scoring Defense: 25.7 (48, 4)
Turnover Margin: -0.31 (90, 7)
Sacks: 1.62 (97, 8)
Sacks Allowed: 1.08 (11, 3)