#86 Toledo Football 2014 Preview

Toledo Rockets

Overall Rank: #86
#3 Mid-American

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For the most part, Toledo beat the teams they should have beaten last year and their only bad loss was a season ending defeat at the hands of Akron. But the 7-5 and 5-3 conference record did not get them into a bowl game. With more MAC bowl tie-ins, that should not be the case this year if the Rockets can replicate their seven victories.

2013 Record: (7-5, 5-3)
2013 Bowl: None
Coach: Matt Campbell (17-9 at Toledo, 17-9 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Jason Candle
Defensive Coordinator: Jon Heacock

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Kareem Hunt, RB, 866 yards
Passing: Logan Woodside, QB, 240 yards
Receiving: Alonzo Russell, WR, 728 yards
Tackles: Junior Sylvestre, LB, 118
Sacks: Junior Sylvestre, LB, 5.0
Interceptions: Chaz Whittaker, S, 2

Other Key Returnees: WR Dwight Macon, LB Chase Murdock, LB Trent Voss, CB Cheatham Norris, DT Treyvon Hester, OL Greg Mancz, OL Jeff Myers, K Jeremiah Detmer

Key Losses: RB David Fluellen, QB Terrance Owens, WR Bernard Reedy, DL Jayrone Elliott, OL Zac Kerin

Toledo ranked 10th in the MAC in total defense, allowing 421.8 yards per game. That number should improve drastically this year with a wealth of experience returning. The line is led by Treyvon Hester, but the real story is the overall depth in the trenches. Coach Matt Campbell will be able to rotate fresh and effective players all game long. Senior linebacker Junior Sylvestre is back to lead the linebackers after recording 118 tackles, including 5.0 sacks and 9.5 tackles-for-loss. Juniors Chase Murdock and Trent Voss ranked second and fourth in tackles, respectively, and will once again team up with Sylvestre in the middle of the defense. The secondary was not consistent in 2013, but the return of Cheatham Norrils and Chaz Whittaker will help. After a less than stellar defensive effort in 2013, the Rockets could be in for a huge turnaround.

The Toledo offense was very effective in 2013, but quarterback Terrance Owens, running back David Fluellen and wide receiver Bernard Reedy are gone. Owens was an efficient passer, throwing for 2,230 yards and 18 touchdowns. Logan Woodside saw mop up duty in four games last year and is the only returning quarterback with any experience with the Rockets. The other option is Alabama transfer Phillip Ely. At running back, sophomores Kareem Hunt and Damion Jones-Moore will take over. Hunt, despite 1,121 rushing yards from Fluellen, carried the ball 137 times for 866 yards and six touchdowns. Like at running back, the wide receivers should have little trouble replacing their top producer. Alonzo Russell caught 59 passes for 728 yards and will be the new leader. But even if the ground game is decent and the receivers step up, this Toledo offense still comes down to quarterback play.

The Bottom Line:
The MAC West will be tough with Northern Illinois and Ball State also eyeing the MAC title game. The Rockets get Ball State at home on September 20th and travel to DeKalb on November 11th. If those games turn out to be close, which seems likely at this point, Toledo has a secret weapon in kicker Jeremiah Detmer. The senior went 19-for-20 on field goals last year, including a perfect 6-for-6 from 40 to 49 yards.

Projected Bowl: Camellia Bowl

2013 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 240.6 (14th in nation, 2nd in conference)
Passing Offense: 206.8 (86, 9)
Total Offense: 447.3 (39, 4)
Scoring Offense: 33.0 (39, 4)
Rushing Defense: 170.4 (73, 5)
Pass Defense: 251.3 (92, 10)
Total Defense: 421.8 (87, 10)
Scoring Defense: 28.6 (73, 7)
Turnover Margin: 0.3 (38, 5)
Sacks:  2.83 (20, 2)
Sacks Allowed: 0.50 (1, 1)


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