College Football Preview: The 2014 Toledo Rockets

College Football Preview: The 2014 Toledo Rockets
2014-06-04 05:00:00 EDT

The Toledo Rockets look to overcome some key losses to challenge the top MAC squads in 2014.

Overview: The Rockets always seem to be competitive but competitive doesn’t guarantee a MAC championship and with the departure of their quarterback, leading rusher and top receiver it seems Toledo has too many holes to fill offensively. The good news is this team is loaded with quality depth and need it to show in the afforementioned areas which will likely determine where the Rockets finish in the standings.

Offense: Terrance Owens is gone at quarterback and takes 2,230 passing yards in 2013 with him, not to mention 33 career victories. At first glance Logan Woodside is the only player that has taken a snap with the Rockets with transfer Phillip Ely available and red shirt freshman Michael Julian intriguing at 6-5. Leading rusher David Fluellen (166-1114) is also gone but that might mean Kareem Hunt (137-866) gets more carries and that’s not a bad thing. Top receiver Bernard Reedy (62-840) also graduated but Alonzo Russell (59-728) was not far behind Reedy which leaves Justin Olack and Dwight Macon to fill the void of the second and third option. Four returning seniors man the offensive line so experience is a strength in that area although depth is lacking.

Defense: The Rockets really got after opposing quarterbacks with 36 sacks in 2013 but their best rusher DE Jayrone Elliott has graduated along with his partner in crime Christian Smith at the other defensive end spot. The majority of the remaining DL is back however so there should be a decent amount of pressure generated. The top four linebackers also return as do three of the four starters in the secondary with enormous depth in that area. The problem in 2013 was this unit intercepted very few passes and not very good in a nutshell which goes against the theory that pressure on the quarterback helps the pass defense…not here and that has to change.

Special Teams: Punter Vince Penza will be difficult to replace with 80% of his boots not returned. But kicker Jeremiah Detmer is a weapon with his 19-20 performance on FG and had a career high of 22 straight makes at one point. Reedy is gone in the return game which makes the competition to win both return jobs wide open.

Outlook: Toledo is loaded at the skill positions except under center which might be a mystery for awhile. The secondary is a legitimate worry but there is depth throughout except for QB…did I say quarterback is an unknown already? Time will tell but the Rockets should reside in the upper half of the conference…

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