2008 Toledo Rockets Football Preview
Toledo Rockets - Mid-American Conference (West)
Toledo's 007 Record: (5-7, 3-5)
2007 Bowl: none
Toledo Head Coach: Tom Amstutz (55-22 at Toledo, 55-22 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Chris Hedden
Defensive Coordinator: Tim Rose
Returning Leaders for Toledo:
Other Key Returnees: G Jared DeWalt, LB Keith Forestal, C Buster Garrett, DT Maurice Hill, G Kevin Kowalski, WR Nick Moore
Key Losses: DE Bernard Faithful, OT John Greco, WR Andrew Hawkins, LB Greg Hay, TE Chris Hopkins, P Brett Kern, RB Jalen Parmele, OT David Perkins, DT Tyree Pollard
Toledo struggled mightily on the defensive side of the ball, ranking near the bottom in just about every category, including a dead last ranking in scoring defense giving up 39.2 points per game. It was not until towards the end of the season when the defense held a team in the 20’s. The unit is still pretty young, but at least there is some experience.
Toledo's 2008 Strengths:
And the back seven of that defense has the potential to improve quite a bit with five starters returning. Linebacker Keith Forestal is the only returning starter who is a senior and will be asked to fill the leadership role. Archie Donald is also back after missing last season and starting a handful of games in 2006. Sophomore corner Desmond Marrow could be a star very soon and should take a starting job away from returning starters Walter Atkins and Myshan Pettis. Strong safety Barry Church can do everything and rover Lester Richmond led the Rockets in tackles last season. Free safety Tyrrell Herbert is back after missing last year with an injury. On the other side of the ball, quarterback Aaron Opelt showed flashes of brilliance. The 6-2 junior had a great spring and finished last year very strong and was much more consistent and confident. With wide receiver Stephen Williams back, the Toledo passing attack could be one of the best in the conference.
Toledo's 2008 Weaknesses:
But the offense as a whole might struggle without running back Jalen Parmele, who rushed for 1,511 yards and 14 touchdowns as a senior. DaJuane Collins has plenty of talent to fill the void after tallying an impressive 6.4 yards per carry average as Parmele’s backup. If Collins can handle an increase in carries, the Toledo running game will be fine. However, the offensive line has some problems. Both tackles are gone and replacing John Greco at left tackle will be nearly impossible. Redshirt freshman Mike VanDerMeulen has the unenviable job of protecting Opelt’s backside and make holes for the running game.
The Bottom Line for the Rockets:
The offense might not be quite as productive as last year, at least on the ground, and the defense has some more experience but will need the front four to start getting pressure on the quarterback. Toledo tied for last in the nation in sacks and the only two players who had more than one sack on the season are gone. The good news is that end Sean Williamson is back after missing last year with an injury, but that might not be enough to make the defense too much better.
Toledo's 2007 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 209.17 (15th in nation, 1st in conference)
Passing Offense: 239.25 (48, 5)
Total Offense: 448.42 (20, 1)
Scoring Offense: 32.92 (31, 2)
Rushing Defense: 214.92 (112, 13)
Pass Defense: 229.17 (62, 11)
Total Defense: 444.08 (102, 12)
Scoring Defense: 39.17 (116, 13)
Turnover Margin: .08 (47, 6)
Sacks: .75 (118, 13)Sacks Allowed: 1.33 (19, 1)
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