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1. Always a bridesmaid
Few teams have been as consistently decent as Toledo. The Rockets have won between seven and nine games for five years in a row and have gone at least 6-2 in conference in four. Three times, they've gone 7-1. While they have a power-conference allergy, they've solidified themselves in the MAC's upper tier in both recruiting and performance.
They also haven't attended a MAC title game since 2004. Since 2010, Miami (Ohio) has sandwiched a conference title between 10-loss seasons. Kent State has come out of nowhere, nearly reached an Orange Bowl, and fallen apart again. Bowling Green has been to two title games and won one. But those teams are in the MAC East. Toledo's in the West; so is Northern Illinois.
In all three of Toledo's 7-1 campaigns since 2010, the Rockets' lone MAC loss came to NIU. The Rockets have lost five in a row and six of seven to the Huskies. They are the Kansas State to NIU's late-1990s Nebraska, the lone obstacle preventing the Rockets from rings.
Unlike KSU to NU, Toledo has been superior to NIU on paper for three of the last five seasons.
|Year||Toledo F/+ Ranking
|NIU F/+ Ranking|
|2010||76th (7-1)||39th (8-0)|
|2011||17th (7-1)||42nd (7-1)|
|2012||61st (6-2)||40th (8-0)|
|2013||46th (5-3)||52nd (8-0)|
|2014||59th (7-1)||69th (7-1)|
Three of NIU's five wins came by small margins: 27-24 in 2014 (with UT playing its third-string QB), 31-24 in 2012, and of course 63-60 in 2011. And now, as Toledo attempts to solve its NIU riddle, WMU is rowing boats and signing historic recruiting classes. Can Toledo end a mystifying division title drought? Or might the Rockets solve one problem only to encounter a different one from Kalamazoo?
2014 Schedule & Results
|Record: 9-4 | Adj. Record: 8-5 | Final F/+ Rk: 59|
|Date||Opponent||Opp. F/+ Rk||Score||W-L||Percentile
|4-Oct||at Western Michigan||56||20-19||W||71%||13.1||79%|
|11-Oct||at Iowa State||92||30-37||L||14%||-25.3||27%|
|4-Nov||at Kent State||107||30-20||W||45%||-2.7||79%|
|11-Nov||at Northern Illinois||69||24-27||L||52%||1.0||56%|
|28-Nov||at Eastern Michigan||128||52-16||W||86%||24.7||100%|
|4-Jan||vs. Arkansas State||66||63-44||W||65%||8.9||79%|
|Points Per Game||36.6||20||30.5||92|
2. A power-conference allergy
Toledo has been difficult to evaluate. The Rockets' performance against fellow MAC teams and mid-majors has been good enough that it suggests a high level overall, and they have indeed ranked 61st or better in F/+ for four straight years. But they're 2-8 against power-conference teams since 2010, 2-9 if you include former BCSer Cincinnati on the 2014 slate, and 2-11 if you include virtual power Boise State.
There have been some fine performances sprinkled in, of course. The 2011 loss to Ohio State was a strong acquittal, and the Rockets were neck-and-neck in the third quarter with eventual 12-win Missouri in 2013. But the three 2014 performances were disappointing and, from a percentile perspective, easily the Rockets' three worst games of the season.
- Average Percentile Performance vs. Missouri, Cincinnati, Iowa State: 14% (average score: Opponent 48, Toledo 29)
- Average Percentile Performance vs. everybody else: 61% (average score: Toledo 39, Opponent 25)
Aside from general mid-major concerns, if given the choice, you'd prefer to save your worst performances for games outside of conference play. But these games (especially the Iowa State loss) put a damper on what was otherwise a season that set the table for exciting things.
And hey, Iowa State comes to Toledo on September 19. An opportunity for redemption awaits. (Just ignore that September 12 trip to Arkansas.)
|FIVE FACTORS -- OFFENSE|
|Raw Category||Rk||Opp. Adj. Category||Rk|
|EFFICIENCY||Succ. Rt.||48.5%||11||Succ. Rt. +||106.3||45|
|FIELD POSITION||Def. Avg. FP||29.8||68||Def. FP+||97.0||101|
|FINISHING DRIVES||Pts. Per Trip in 40||5.0||15||Redzone S&P+||110.4||39|
|Q1 Rk||66||1st Down Rk||35|
|Q2 Rk||54||2nd Down Rk||37|
|Q3 Rk||13||3rd Down Rk||33|
Note: players in bold below are 2015 returnees. Players in italics are questionable with injury/suspension.
|Logan Woodside||6'2, 210||Jr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8042||185||296||2263||19||8||62.5%||9||3.0%||7.2|
|Phillip Ely||6'1, 202||Sr.||3 stars (5.7)||0.8600||41||68||541||4||1||60.3%||2||2.9%||7.4|
|Michael Julian||6'5, 215||So.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8201||8||19||90||0||0||42.1%||3||13.6%||2.8|
|Quentin Gibson||6'3, 195||RSFr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8223|
|Mitchell Guadagni||6'2, 190||Fr.||2 stars (5.3)||0.8296|
3. Woodside-Ely II (eventually)
Logan Woodside filled in well for [Terrance] Owens against EWU, and Michael Julian was a high-two-star recruit in high school. Alabama transfer Phillip Ely is also eligible. Toledo didn't sign a signal-caller, so these three and walk-on Ryan Casey are the only quarterbacks.
The margin for error is small, and if there's an injury, things get dicey quickly.
I was cautiously optimistic in 2014; between Ely, Woodside, and Julian, odds were decent that the Rockets would have a competent man behind center. As it played out, Toledo had two.
Ely beat Woodside for the starting job and torched New Hampshire in the opener (24-for-34, 337 yards, four touchdowns) before struggling a bit against Missouri, then tearing up his knee in a non-contact injury. Logan Woodside took over and looked basically the same, alternating between phenomenal and mediocre. Against Cincinnati and CMU, he was 50-for-74 (68 percent) for 661 yards, five touchdowns, and one pick. Against WMU and Ball State, he was 26-for-49 (53 percent) for 362 yards, two scores, and two interceptions.
While posting a strong 171.5 passer rating against Kent State, he injured his ankle and could barely play against NIU -- he was 2-for-5 against the Huskies for 20 yards before giving way to Michael Julian. After struggling against BGSU the next week, he rebounded to post nearly perfect numbers against EMU: 14-for-18, 323 yards, five scores.
Ely is still recovering, and Woodside is skipping spring ball after surgery. For now, that leaves Julian, redshirt freshman Quentin Gibson (a late signee in 2014), and ... that's about it.
|Kareem Hunt||RB||5'11, 215||Jr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8033||205||1631||16||8.0||7.2||52.7%||0||0|
|Terry Swanson||RB||5'9, 183||So.||2 stars (5.4)||0.7963||113||732||6||6.5||5.2||50.4%||2||1|
|Damion Jones-Moore||RB||5'7, 190||Jr.||2 stars (5.3)||0.7934||80||460||6||5.8||4.3||47.5%||0||0|
|Logan Woodside||QB||6'2, 210||Jr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8042||43||148||3||3.4||2.1||37.2%||7||3|
|Marc Remy||RB||6'0, 186||Jr.||2 stars (5.3)||NR||42||219||0||5.2||4.0||42.9%||1||1|
|Michael Julian||QB||6'5, 215||So.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8201||11||18||0||1.6||2.0||18.2%||2||0|
|Corey Jones||WR||5'8, 165||Jr.||3 stars (5.7)||0.8893||8||88||0||11.0||7.7||75.0%||2||0|
|Phillip Ely||QB||6'1, 202||Sr.||3 stars (5.7)||0.8600||8||31||0||3.9||6.0||37.5%||1||0|
|Art Thompkins||RB||5'8, 165||Fr.||2 stars (5.3)||0.7992|
|Rivals||247 Comp.||Targets||Catches||Yards||Catch Rate||Target
|Corey Jones||WR-M||5'8, 165||Jr.||3 stars (5.7)||0.8893||99||68||842||68.7%||25.8%||77.8%||8.5||30||8.8||95.5|
|Alonzo Russell||WR-X||6'4, 205||Sr.||3 stars (5.7)||0.8504||96||52||784||54.2%||25.0%||55.2%||8.2||133||8.1||88.9|
|Kishon Wilcher||WR-M||5'7, 180||Sr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.7667||30||19||275||63.3%||7.8%||66.7%||9.2||45||8.5||31.2|
|Alex Zmolik||TE||6'5, 245||Sr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.7869||21||16||204||76.2%||5.5%||52.4%||9.7||16||9.5||23.1|
|Terry Swanson||RB||5'9, 183||So.||2 stars (5.4)||0.7963||15||12||153||80.0%||3.9%||40.0%||10.2||13||9.6||17.3|
|Kareem Hunt||RB||5'11, 215||Jr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8033||13||9||34||69.2%||3.4%||46.2%||2.6||-73||2.0||3.9|
|Damion Jones-Moore||RB||5'7, 190||Jr.||2 stars (5.3)||0.7934||9||9||70||100.0%||2.3%||55.6%||7.8||-31||7.7||7.9|
|Marc Remy||RB||6'0, 186||Jr.||2 stars (5.3)||NR||8||6||46||75.0%||2.1%||62.5%||5.8||-25||5.9||5.2|
|Michael Roberts||TE||6'4, 265||Jr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8125||7||4||65||57.1%||1.8%||42.9%||9.3||16||10.9||7.4|
|Zach Rogers||WR||6'2, 210||Sr.||2 stars (5.3)||NR||6||5||42||83.3%||1.6%||100.0%||7.0||-16||N/A||4.8|
|Cody Thompson||WR-X||6'1, 187||So.||2 stars (5.3)||0.7483||5||4||34||80.0%||1.3%||60.0%||6.8||-13||6.9||3.9|
|Zach Yousey||WR||6'1, 195||Jr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.7633||3||1||23||33.3%||0.8%||66.7%||7.7||9||9.8||2.6|
|Jon'Vea Johnson||WR||5'11, 183||So.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8330||2||1||1||50.0%||0.5%||50.0%||0.5||-12||0.4||0.1|
|Darryl Richards||WR||6'3, 185||So.||2 stars (5.4)||NR|
|Mykale Rogers||WR||6'1, 192||RSFr.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8230|
|Davi'on Riley||TE||6'3, 215||RSFr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8202|
|Marcus Whitfield||WR||5'11, 165||RSFr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8148|
|Andrew Davis||WR||6'4, 185||RSFr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.7973|
|Darrion Landry||WR||6'2, 200||Jr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8439|
|Nicholas Potts||TE||6'6, 215||Fr.||NR||0.8100|
4. Hand the ball to Kareem (or Terry, or Damion)
Toledo leaned more on the run; the Rockets ran 60.8 percent of the time on standard downs in 2013, then 65.3 percent in 2014. Perhaps that was because of inexperience at quarterback, but perhaps it was because Matt Campbell and offensive coordinator Jason Candle knew what they had at running back.
Kareem Hunt took over as Toledo's primary ball carrier and simply dominated. He missed three games with injury and still rushed for 1,600 yards. He was averaging an absurd 8.9 yards per carry through four games when he sprained his ankle, and when he returned, he slumped to a mere 7.6. He put up 265 yards on 30 carries to save a flagging passing game in the win over BGSU, and he rushed 32 times for 271 yards in the bowl win over Arkansas State. And he damaged good defenses: 15 carries for 148 yards against Missouri's tough run front.
Oh yeah, and in the three games Hunt missed, backup Terry Swanson rushed 47 times for 393 yards (8.4 per carry). Only once all season did Toledo fail to produce a 100-yard rusher: Swanson had 97 in 11 carries against CMU.
Despite a set of injuries that would cripple most offenses, Toledo finished 20th in Off. S&P+.
The running backs and offensive line were incredible, and when working with a healthy quarterback, the receivers weren't bad. The top four wideouts averaged between 8 and 8.5 yards per target, combining a solid possession guy (Corey Jones with his 69 percent catch rate) with three big-play threats (Alonzo Russell, Justin Olack, and Kishon Wilcher averaged 15.1 yards per catch). Drops were an occasional issue, but the return of three of these four, along with an exciting set of youngsters (sophomore Jon'Vea Johnson, redshirt freshmen Mykale Rogers, Marcus Whitfield, JUCO transfer Darrion Landry), give Woodside and/or Ely more weapons than they can satisfy considering how many carries Hunt, Swanson, and company are going to command.
From a skill position perspective, this offense is loaded. And it has at least two quarterbacks with potential.
Now ... about that offensive line ...
|Rivals||247 Comp.||Career Starts||Honors/Notes|
|Greg Mancz||C||48||2014 1st All-MAC|
|Josh Hendershot||LT||38||2014 2nd All-MAC|
|Jeff Myers||LG||38||2014 2nd All-MAC|
|Storm Norton||LT||6'8, 310||Jr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.7976||3|
|Mike Ebert||LG||6'6, 285||Jr.||2 stars (5.3)||0.7880||0|
|Paul Perschon||RT||6'6, 310||Jr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8035||0|
|Bill Weber||RG||6'4, 325||So.||2 stars (5.3)||0.7719||0|
|James Henry||OL||6'8, 290||Jr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.7693||0|
|Elijah Nkansah||OL||6'6, 295||So.||2 stars (5.4)||0.7733||0|
|Nate Jeppesen||OL||6'4, 292||So.||2 stars (5.4)||0.7700||0|
|OL||6'4, 306||Sr.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8503|
|Sami Kassem||OL||6'4, 320||Jr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.7833|
|Cameron Bell||OL||6'8, 360||Fr.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8382|
|Bryce Harris||OL||6'5, 285||Fr.||2 stars (5.3)||0.8031|
5. A smoking crater
In 2013, Toledo was one of six teams to rank in the top 20 in both Adj. Line Yards and Adj. Sack Rate. In 2014, the Rockets returned four line starters and became one of six teams to rank in the top 25 in both categories.
When Greg Mancz got hurt against Kent State, he missed a few games, which forced Josh Hendershot to move to center and Storm Norton to start at left tackle. The three games Norton started are now the only three career starts the 2015 Toledo line can boast. All five starters are gone, which means accomplished young OL coach Tom Manning is going to earn his salary this fall.
With no drop-off up front, Toledo might have the best mid-major offense in the country. But how are you going to avoid a drop-off?
Granted, there will be plenty of juniors on the two-deep, along with graduate transfer Ruben Carter from Florida State and big JUCO transfer Sami Kassem. Size won't be an issue, and up to five members of the two-deep will be former three-star recruits according to either Rivals or the 247Sports Composite.
But damn, this is a lot to lose at once. It is the dominant question for Toledo. The Rockets boast 14 returning starters at the 17 offensive and defensive positions outside of this unit ... and none in this unit.
|FIVE FACTORS -- DEFENSE|
|Raw Category||Rk||Opp. Adj. Category||Rk|
|EFFICIENCY||Succ. Rt.||41.2%||65||Succ. Rt. +||96.9||80|
|FIELD POSITION||Off. Avg. FP||28.7||100||Off. FP+||97.0||99|
|FINISHING DRIVES||Pts. Per Trip in 40||5.0||119||Redzone S&P+||90.8||101|
|Q1 Rk||95||1st Down Rk||89|
|Q2 Rk||63||2nd Down Rk||112|
|Q3 Rk||108||3rd Down Rk||92|
6. A strong run defense that nobody tested
Of course, to call Toledo's offensive line the biggest question is to ignore the unit that dragged the Rockets down all year.
Jon Heacock's first year as Toledo's defensive coordinator was a frustrating one. Heacock oversaw significant improvement on the ground -- the Rockets went from 69th to 40th in Rushing S&P+ and allowed just nine rushes of 20-plus yards (eighth in the country).
But opponents weren't damaged by the run defense, because they could pass all day long. A pass rush that might have been the best in the country in 2013 fell to 42nd in Adj. Sack Rate, and a secondary that was already shaky lost two of its top three. Cheatham Norrils was felled by a scary viral infection and July hospitalization, and Cameron Cole suffered a knee injury.
Toledo's pass defense got obliterated for the first two months, with every passer posting at least a 134.8 rating for the first eight games. The result: despite ground game improvement, the Rockets fell from 77th to 104th in overall Def. S&P+.
The pass defense improved significantly in November, allowing a combined 43 percent completion rate over the final four regular season games and only once allowing a passer rating over 90. The defense got torched again by Arkansas State in the wild GoDaddy Bowl, but the trend was toward improvement.
Plus, there's reason to believe the run defense will be about as good. And at the very least, the secondary will be deeper.
|Rivals||247 Comp.||GP||Tackles||% of Team||TFL||Sacks||Int||PBU||FF||FR|
|Trent Voss||LEO||6'3, 220||Sr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8158||13||57.5||8.5%||15.0||4.5||1||2||0||0|
|Treyvon Hester||DT||6'4, 300||Jr.||3 stars (5.7)||0.8000||13||35.5||5.2%||9.5||2.0||0||1||2||0|
|Orion Jones||NT||6'2, 285||Sr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8281||13||24.0||3.5%||10.0||6.0||0||0||0||0|
|Allen Covington||DE||6'2, 275||Sr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.7700||13||20.0||2.9%||4.0||1.0||0||2||0||1|
|DT||6'1, 300||Jr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8033||12||16.5||2.4%||5.0||2.0||0||0||0||1|
|Keenen Gibbs||DE||6'3, 265||Sr.||2 stars (5.2)||0.7630||13||10.0||1.5%||2.5||2.5||0||0||0||0|
|John Stepec||DE||6'3, 245||Jr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8190||13||8.5||1.3%||0.0||0.0||0||0||0||0|
|Tre James||LEO||6'1, 250||Sr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.7593||10||5.5||0.8%||3.0||2.0||0||0||0||0|
|Adam Kulon||DE||6'4, 265||So.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8148||7||5.5||0.8%||0.0||0.0||0||0||0||0|
|Chris Collins||NT||6'4, 290||Sr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.7400||12||5.5||0.8%||0.0||0.0||0||0||1||0|
|Victor Cave||DE||6'2, 245||So.||2 stars (5.4)||0.7483||3||2.0||0.3%||1.0||1.0||0||0||0||0|
|Daniel Davis||DE||6'3, 260||So.||3 stars (5.5)||0.7500|
7. Every lineman back, and then some
Linebackers Junior Sylvestre and Ray Bush were simply fantastic. They were serious aids to a struggling pass defense, with six sacks and 10 pass break-ups; they were also stout in run support, logging 12 non-sack tackles for loss. Bush overtook Chase Murdock in the starting lineup and backed up the decision with high-caliber play. So while I talk about everybody who returns, know that losing these two could hurt.
But it's easier to account for such losses when they're almost the only losses. Murdock is back, and his 2013 numbers (nine tackles for loss, four sacks, three passes defensed) suggest he could produce. Plus, sophomore Zach Quinn showed potential in limited opportunity, and junior Jaylen Coleman and incoming freshman Chris Green were among the team's more highly touted former recruits.
Every lineman from an excellent run front returns. Tackles Orion Jones and Treyvon Hester combined for 19.5 tackles for loss -- Jones led in sacks despite lining up on the interior -- and 2013 contributor Marquise Moore, who began 2014 as a starter, is back after tearing a ligament in his foot.
Heacock's approach was understandable: attack the run on standard downs and send the house on passing downs. The Rockets weren't good enough at stopping the pass on standard downs to make this work, but stopping the run probably won't be an issue this year.
|Rivals||247 Comp.||GP||Tackles||% of Team||TFL||Sacks||Int||PBU||FF||FR|
|Chase Murdock||MIKE||6'0, 225||Sr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8000||12||23.0||3.4%||1.5||1.0||0||0||0||0|
|Jaylen Coleman||WILL||6'0, 235||Jr.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8310||13||15.0||2.2%||0.0||0.0||0||0||0||0|
|Zach Quinn||SAM||6'3, 225||So.||2 stars (5.4)||0.7959||13||14.0||2.1%||2.5||0.0||0||0||0||0|
|Ja'Wuan Woodley||SAM||5'11, 230||So.||2 stars (5.4)||0.7800||10||3.0||0.4%||0.5||0.0||0||0||0||0|
|Jack Linch||LB||6'0, 218||So.||NR||N/A||11||3.0||0.4%||0.0||0.0||0||0||0||0|
|Josh High||LB||6'0, 222||Jr.||NR||N/A||11||2.0||0.3%||0.0||0.0||0||0||0||0|
|Chris Green||LB||6'1, 230||Fr.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8550|
|Tyler Taafe||LB||6'1, 221||Fr.||2 stars (5.2)||0.7994|
|Rivals||247 Comp.||GP||Tackles||% of Team||TFL||Sacks||Int||PBU||FF||FR|
|Chris Dukes||CB||5'9, 185||Sr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8514||13||54.5||8.0%||1||1||2||10||0||0|
|DeJuan Rogers||S||6'1, 185||Jr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8242||13||53.5||7.9%||3.5||1||0||2||0||0|
|Chaz Whittaker||S||6'2, 200||Sr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8286||13||47.5||7.0%||0||0||2||6||1||0|
|CB||6'0, 195||Sr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.7000||12||42.0||6.1%||1.5||1||1||2||2||0|
|CB||6'0, 190||Sr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.7000||12||35.5||5.1%||0||0||0||3||1||0|
|Jordan Martin||CB||6'2, 205||Jr.||2 stars (5.2)||0.8500||10||22.5||3.3%||4||1||0||4||1||0|
|Trevon Mathis||CB||5'11, 170||So.||2 stars (5.3)||0.7847||13||19.5||2.9%||0||0||1||6||0||0|
|Delando Johnson||DB||6'2, 200||Jr.||3 stars (5.7)||0.8731||13||18.0||2.7%||1||0||1||0||1||0|
|Connery Swift||S||5'9, 207||Jr.||NR||N/A||13||13.5||2.0%||0||0||0||1||0||0|
|Juwan Haynes||CB||6'0, 190||Sr.||2 stars (5.3)||0.7100||13||12.5||1.8%||0||0||0||2||0||0|
|Kennedy Frazier||DB||6'1, 185||So.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8059|
|Dedric Brinson||CB||6'2, 180||RSFr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8029|
|Aaron Covington||CB||5'9, 175||Fr.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8560|
8. Throwing bodies at a problem
If injuries hurt in the present tense but help in the future tense, they could help quite a bit this fall.
Norrils and Cole return, playmaking UAB transfer Rolan Milligan joins, and all but one member of last year's two-deep returns. Corner Chris Dukes made quite a few plays on the ball last year, and the addition of Milligan means that Toledo boasts three returning DBs who logged at least 3.5 tackles for loss.
So the secondary should continue helping against the run. Now we just have to see if experience and depth result (not to mention November improvement) lead to overall improvement against the pass.
|Nick Ellis||5'11, 170||Jr.||52||36.6||0||17||18||67.3%|
|Kishon Wilcher||KR||5'7, 180||Sr.||29||22.0||0|
|Corey Jones||KR||5'8, 165||Jr.||8||20.5||0|
|Corey Jones||PR||5'8, 165||Jr.||24||6.4||0|
|Special Teams F/+||55|
|Field Goal Efficiency||49|
|Punt Return Efficiency||15|
|Kick Return Efficiency||101|
|Opponents' Field Goal Efficiency||80|
9. Detmer had tenure
Jeremiah Detmer didn't have a fantastic senior season, at least by his standards. He actually missed kicks, for starters -- after going 19-for-20 on field goals as a junior, he missed five as a senior. Still, he was a virtual institution at UT, taking over late in 2011 and booting for more than three years.
If the offensive line is a little bit glitchier, it's conceivable that UT might have to settle for more field goals, and we'll see if Detmer's replacement can match his efficiency.
2015 Schedule & Projection Factors
|Date||Opponent||2014 F/+ Rk|
|3-Oct||at Ball State||91|
|10-Nov||at Central Michigan||85|
|17-Nov||at Bowling Green||98|
|Five-Year F/+ Rk||7.5% (50)|
|2- and 5-Year Recruiting Rk||87 / 80|
|2014 TO Margin/Adj. TO Margin*||-3 / -4.2|
|2014 TO Luck/Game||+0.5|
|Approx. Ret. Starters (Off. / Def.)||14 (5, 9)|
|2014 Second-order wins (difference)||8.4 (0.6)|
10. If not now, then when?
Toledo returns two exciting quarterbacks, almost every skill position player, every defensive lineman, and almost every defensive back. The defense welcomes back as many as three starters from injury, and the linebacking corps still appears to be stocked. The Rockets have a single question mark (two if you count the loss of the kicker). They also get NIU and WMU at home.
UT has gone 32-8 in conference play over the last five years, but if the Rockets are ever going to break NIU's stranglehold on the MAC West, it might have to be this year. WMU improved by leaps and bounds last year as an incredibly young team and might be even better in years to come. Toledo should remain a viable MAC program, but the conference title opportunities have been swallowed up by NIU, and WMU is coming to crash the party.
If Toledo doesn't win the division with favorable home-road splits, it's hard to say when it might happen. If the offensive line is competent, the Rockets will have an excellent chance. But they've had excellent chances. Do they finally cash in?