#54 Toledo 2018 Football Preview

Toledo Rockets
Overall Rank: #54
#2 Mid-American
 Toledo Logo
Toledo had a program building season in 2017. They finished the regular season with a 7-1 conference mark, won the MAC Championship over Akron and went to the Dollar General Bowl. That bowl trip was forgettable with a 34-0 defeat at the hands of Appalachian State, but there were obviously many positives for Coach Jason Candle to take away from the 2017 campaign.
2017 Record: 11-3, 7-1
2017 Bowl: Dollar General Bowl vs. Appalachian State (L 0-34)
Coach: Jason Candle (21-7 at Toledo, 21-7 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Brian Wright
Defensive Coordinator: Brian George
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Shakif Seymour, RB, 702 yards
Passing: Mitchell Guadagni, QB, 16 yards
Receiving: Diontae Johnson, WR, 1,278 yards
Tackles: Kahill Robinson, S, 67
Sacks: Dedarallo Blue, LB, 2.0; Willie Ross, DE, 2.0
Interceptions: Kahill Robinson, S, 4
Other Key Returnees: RB Art Thompkins, WR Jon’Vea Johnson, WR Cody Thompson, S Josh Teachy, LB Tyler Taafe, K Jameson Vest
Key Losses: QB Logan Woodside, RB Terry Swanson, OL Elijah Nkansah, OL Brant Weiss, DE Olasunkanmi Adeniyi, DE Zach Quinn, LB Jack Linch, CB Trevon Mathis
Mitchell Guadagni and Eli Peters are battling to replace reigning MAC Player of the Year Logan Woodside. Woodside threw for 3,882 yards and 28 touchdowns during his impressive senior season. Guadagni and Peters have one career completion between them. However, the Rockets do not need their new quarterback to be that great right away. Whoever ends up under center will have one of the best groups of wide receivers in the country at their disposal. Diontae Johnson was the team’s top pass catcher a year ago, gathering in 74 passes for 1,278 yards and 13 touchdowns. Jon’Vae Johnson has had a very productive career with 42 catches and five touchdowns during his junior campaign. And then there is Cody Thompson, who missed most of last season with an injury. Two years ago he tallied 1,269 receiving yards with 11 touchdowns. At running back, Shakif Seymour and Art Thompkins are ready to take over after backing up Terry Swanson a season ago. Seymour, who rushed for 702 yards and a dozen scores, is the bruising back. Thompkins can get outside and pick up the big yards.
If Toledo is going to win another conference title, the defense may have to pick up some of the slack. Last year the unit was good and did enough to let the potent offense win them games. The front four will need to be rebuilt around junior tackle Nate Childress. There is some young talent, but it remains to be seen if they are ready to contribute. Tyler Taafe will lead the linebackers after recording 48 tackles a season ago. With four starters returning, the secondary is clearly the strength of the defense. Cornerback Ka’dar Hollman and safeties Josh Teachey and Kahlil Robinson have all-conference talent. Robinson intercepted four passes in 2017 and is the team’s top returning tackler with 67. If the secondary can prevent too many big plays early in the year, the rest of the defense will be able to do enough to grow into their roles.
The Bottom Line:
This should be a very dangerous Toledo team. The offense will likely take a step back without Woodside leading the way, but the defense could take a step forward. The non-conference schedule is pretty exciting too with Nevada and Miami (FL) coming to the Glass Bowl. Last season Toledo played both of those teams on the road, beating Nevada and falling 52-30 against the Hurricanes. Without Ohio on the slate, the big game of the MAC season should come on November 7th at Northern Illinois. The winner of that contest could very well win the MAC West.
Projected Bowl: Frisco Bowl
2017 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 204.0 (29th in nation, 3rd in conference)
Passing Offense: 279.9 (26, 2)
Total Offense: 483.9 (14, 1)
Scoring Offense: 36.4 (16, 2)
Rushing Defense: 177.9 (81, 6)
Pass Defense: 207.1 (44, 6)
Total Defense: 385.0 (59, 7)
Scoring Defense: 26.2 (61, 6)
Turnover Margin: 0.07 (63, 4)
Sacks: 1.57 (106, 9)
Sacks Allowed: 1.57 (36, 4)