Toledo didn’t have much to complain about last year, finishing 10-2 overall. That said, the Rockets lost a tiebreaker to play in the MAC title Game in a Four-way division tie. They won all their non-Conference Games including against Arkansas, but their only two losses both came at home against MAC competition. With a new coach and new quarterback in tow, the Rockets have some hills to climb if they want to reach last year’s levels.
At the least, new head coach Jason Candle is the former offensive coordinator, so not much will change with the offense that averaged 35 points per Game. That should be easy enough with the best rushing attack in the Conference returning in Kareem Hunt (973 yards, 12 TDs, injured for half the season) and Terry Swanson (923 yards, 7 TDs). Those two are expected to run havoc through the MAC again behind a top offensive line. Left tackle Storm Norton leads the crew, but three other experienced starters are in place with a possible freshman in the mix at center.
Quarterback is the interesting spot with Logan Woodside not appearing once last season as a backup. Two years ago he completed 62.6% of his passes for 19 TDs and 8 INTs. To help Woodside get back up to speed, receivers Corey Jones (55 receptions, 577 yards, 5 TDs) and Cody Thompson (825 yards, 22.3 yards per catch) lead the way. There’s no reason this offense will take a step back, even with a QB that didn’t play a season ago.
Replicating their defensive effort from 2015 may be the hardest part. Toledo was best in the conference, allowing just 20.8 points per Game, but return only Four starters from that group. To help, they’ll have experienced studs at every level. Up front, Treyvon Hester is one of the best tackles in the MAC. A solid linebacking crew of Jaylen Coleman and Ja’Wuan Woodley follows him. The back end is a little more unknown, especially in the 4-2-5 scheme. Safety DeJuan Rogers provides the most experience, but most of the expected starters are upperclassmen.
The Rockets would like to win the MAC West this year, but have real competition with Western Michigan, and that’s made even worse as they have to travel to face the Broncos this season. With a worse defense, they’ll find winning non-Conference Games a little tougher, especially their road trip to BYU. Toledo also get Northern Illinois on a neutral field, the other MAC team they lost to last year.
Toledo probably won’t be as good as a year ago, even with the offense not taking a step back. Their over/under at 5Dimes is at 7.5 for a reason with the under at -190 in July. Still, that total does seem a tad low, especially if they can somehow eke out an appearance in the MAC title Game and then a bowl Game.
2016 Toledo Rockets Football Schedule
Sept. 2 at Arkansas State
Sept. 10 vs. Maine
Sept. 17 vs. Fresno State
Sept. 30 at BYU
Oct. 8 at Eastern Michigan
Oct. 15 vs. Bowling Green
Oct. 22 vs. Central Michigan
Oct. 27 vs. Ohio
Nov. 2 at Akron
Nov. 9 vs. Northern Illinois (U.S. Cellular Field)
Nov. 16 vs. Ball State
Nov. 25 at Western Michigan