2009 Toledo Rockets Football Preview
2008 Record: (3-9, 2-6)
2008 Bowl: none
Coach: Tim Beckman (First year at Toledo, 0-0 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Matt Campbell
Defensive Coordinator: Paul Nichols and Mike Ward
Other Key Returnees: S Barry Church, RB DaJuane Collins, G Jared DeWalt, C Buster Garrett, DT Maurice Hill, G Kevin Kowalski, OT John Morookian, LB Daris Quinn, S Lester Richmond, CB Mark Singer, WR Kenny Stafford, K Alex Steigerwald, OT Mike VanDerMeulen, CB Kenny Veal
Key Losses: DE Alexandre Albertson, TE John Allen, CB Greg Harris, S Tyrrell Herbert, WR Nick Moore, DE Sean Williamson
Toledo’s season was made by their upset of Michigan in the Big House. The Rockets almost pulled off another big upset earlier in the year against Fresno State. They ended up losing that game by one point in double overtime. Other than those two games, Coach Tom Amstutz’s final season in Toledo was not very memorable. However, Coach Tim Beckman’s first season could be very memorable.
Despite the lack of a pass rush, Toledo won games with their defense. And now ten starters are back. The Rockets have a handful of linemen who played last year and are returning this season, but none of them were consistently getting into the backfield. Senior Derrick Summers and sophomore Hank Keighley are the likely starters on the ends and they have to create pressure on the quarterback. Getting some help from tackles Skylaar Constant and Maurice Hill would not hurt. Linebacker Donald Arichie should be the team’s leading tackler once again and Daris Quinn ranked fourth on the team with 77 tackles. Counting rover Barry Church, the secondary is extremely talented, even with the loss of Tyrrell Herbert. Church is a candidate to get into the backfield if the front four struggles to do so on their own. With Lester Richmond, Desmond Marrow and Joe Bates joining Church in the secondary, the pass defense should be among the best in the conference.
The offense returns nearly as many starters as the defense, but at times the unit had major trouble moving the ball. Quarterback Aaron Opelt is yet another experienced, yet unspectacular senior quarterback in the MAC. In 2008 he threw for 2,176 yards, 12 touchdowns and seven interceptions. The problem with the passing attack, which ranked 11 th in the conference in 2008, is that Nick Moore is gone. He caught a team high 78 passes and seemed to always make the clutch catch. Stephen Williams, who caught eight touchdown passes, is back, but somebody else has to step up and fill the void left behind by Moore or the opposition can simply double team Williams all day. That would force the Rockets to move to the ground. Morgan Williams and DaJuane Collins are both back after combining to rush for 1,710 yards and 11 touchdowns.
The Bottom Line for the Rockets:
With four starters back on the line, Williams and Collins should have a good year, but the passing game has to improve if Toledo hopes to compete in a tough MAC West Division. The team needs a balanced offense and an opportunistic offense if they want to outscore teams like Central Michigan and Western Michigan.
By Joel Welser
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