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The big 2015 Toledo Rockets football guide: Finally the year to win the West?

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The 128-team countdown previews a perennial runner-up that's loaded ... except for one key position group.

Glenn Andrews-USA TODAY Sports

Confused? Check out the advanced-stats glossary here.

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
(conf. record)
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
Performance
Adj. Scoring
Margin
Win
Expectancy
30-Aug New Hampshire N/A 54-20 W 63% 7.8 99%
6-Sep Missouri 20 24-49 L 15% -24.4 2%
12-Sep at Cincinnati 47 34-58 L 13% -26.6 1%
20-Sep Ball State 91 34-23 W 69% 11.7 95%
27-Sep Central Michigan 85 42-28 W 53% 1.6 61%
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%
25-Oct Massachusetts 120 42-35 W 39% -6.6 65%
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%
19-Nov Bowling Green 98 27-20 W 67% 10.1 94%
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%

Category Offense Rk Defense Rk
S&P+ 34.4 37 34.7 104
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.)

Offense

FIVE FACTORS -- OFFENSE
Raw Category Rk Opp. Adj. Category Rk
EXPLOSIVENESS IsoPPP 0.87 52 IsoPPP+ 112.8 41
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
TURNOVERS EXPECTED 22.2 ACTUAL 17 -5.2
Category Yards/
Game Rk
S&P+ Rk Success
Rt. Rk
PPP+ Rk
OVERALL 15 37 37 41
RUSHING 13 28 24 31
PASSING 60 53 63 53
Standard Downs 30 25 35
Passing Downs 51 61 53
Q1 Rk 66 1st Down Rk 35
Q2 Rk 54 2nd Down Rk 37
Q3 Rk 13 3rd Down Rk 33
Q4 Rk 39

Quarterback

Note: players in bold below are 2015 returnees. Players in italics are questionable with injury/suspension.

Player Ht, Wt 2015
Year
Rivals 247 Comp. Comp Att Yards TD INT Comp
Rate
Sacks Sack Rate Yards/
Att.
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.

Running Back

Player Pos. Ht, Wt 2015
Year
Rivals 247 Comp. Rushes Yards TD Yards/
Carry
Hlt Yds/
Opp.
Opp.
Rate
Fumbles Fum.
Lost
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
Dwight Macon WR
25 150 4 6.0 4.4 52.0% 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
Ricky Pringle RB
7 30 0 4.3 1.5 42.9% 0 0
Art Thompkins RB 5'8, 165 Fr. 2 stars (5.3) 0.7992







Receiving Corps

Player Pos. Ht, Wt 2015
Year
Rivals 247 Comp. Targets Catches Yards Catch Rate Target
Rate
%SD Yds/
Target
NEY Real Yds/
Target
RYPR
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
Justin Olack WR-Z
39 20 313 51.3% 10.2% 59.0% 8.0 60 8.0 35.5
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
Dwight Macon WR-Z
27 18 172 66.7% 7.0% 66.7% 6.4 -44 6.4 19.5
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 ...

Offensive Line

Category Adj.
Line Yds
Std.
Downs

LY/carry
Pass.
Downs

LY/carry
Opp.
Rate
Power
Success
Rate
Stuff
Rate
Adj.
Sack Rate
Std.
Downs

Sack Rt.
Pass.
Downs

Sack Rt.
Team 113.5 3.57 3.39 48.4% 68.5% 14.1% 146.4 0.9% 7.0%
Rank 21 5 55 4 58 8 19 2 60
Player Pos. Ht, Wt 2015
Year
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
Chase Nelson RT
22
Robert Lisowski RG
16
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
Ruben Carter
(Florida State)
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.

Defense

FIVE FACTORS -- DEFENSE
Raw Category Rk Opp. Adj. Category Rk
EXPLOSIVENESS IsoPPP 0.89 90 IsoPPP+ 92.1 94
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
TURNOVERS EXPECTED 18.0 ACTUAL 14.0 -4.0
Category Yards/
Game Rk
S&P+ Rk Success
Rt. Rk
PPP+ Rk
OVERALL 78 88 80 94
RUSHING 14 40 55 21
PASSING 126 109 100 112
Standard Downs 114 104 115
Passing Downs 37 42 39
Q1 Rk 95 1st Down Rk 89
Q2 Rk 63 2nd Down Rk 112
Q3 Rk 108 3rd Down Rk 92
Q4 Rk 113

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.

Defensive Line

Category Adj.
Line Yds
Std.
Downs

LY/carry
Pass.
Downs

LY/carry
Opp.
Rate
Power
Success
Rate
Stuff
Rate
Adj.
Sack Rate
Std.
Downs

Sack Rt.
Pass.
Downs

Sack Rt.
Team 109.1 2.49 2.32 34.6% 75.6% 21.6% 109.5 1.7% 11.0%
Rank 34 14 7 26 108 35 42 124 16
Name Pos Ht, Wt 2015
Year
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
Marquise Moore
(2013)
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.

Linebackers

Name Pos Ht, Wt 2015
Year
Rivals 247 Comp. GP Tackles % of Team TFL Sacks Int PBU FF FR
Junior Sylvestre WILL
13 79.0 11.6% 9.5 2.5 0 5 0 0
Ray Bush MIKE
13 62.5 9.2% 8.5 3.5 0 5 0 0
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
Drake Fletcher LB
13 3.0 0.4% 1.0 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








Secondary

Name Pos Ht, Wt 2015
Year
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
Rolan Milligan
(UAB)
S 5'11, 185 Sr. NR 0.7000 10 45.5 7.0% 4 2 0 6 0 0
Cheatham Norrils
(2013)
CB 6'0, 195 Sr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7000 12 42.0 6.1% 1.5 1 1 2 2 0
Jordan Haden S N/A 10 39.0 5.7% 1 0 3 4 0 0
Cameron Cole
(2013)
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.

Special Teams

Punter Ht, Wt 2015
Year
Punts Avg TB FC I20 FC/I20
Ratio
Nick Ellis 5'11, 170 Jr. 52 36.6 0 17 18 67.3%
Kicker Ht, Wt 2015
Year
Kickoffs Avg TB OOB TB%
Jeremiah Detmer 86 61.0 37 0 43.0%
Place-Kicker Ht, Wt 2015
Year
PAT FG
(0-39)
Pct FG
(40+)
Pct
Jeremiah Detmer 57-59 14-16 87.5% 3-6 50.0%
Returner Pos. Ht, Wt 2015
Year
Returns Avg. TD
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
Category Rk
Special Teams F/+ 55
Field Goal Efficiency 49
Punt Return Efficiency 15
Kick Return Efficiency 101
Punt Efficiency 88
Kickoff Efficiency 40
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

2015 Schedule
Date Opponent 2014 F/+ Rk
3-Sep Stony Brook NR
12-Sep at Arkansas 9
19-Sep Iowa State 92
26-Sep Arkansas State 66
3-Oct at Ball State 91
10-Oct Kent State 107
17-Oct Eastern Michigan 128
24-Oct at Massachusetts 120
3-Nov Northern Illinois 69
10-Nov at Central Michigan 85
17-Nov at Bowling Green 98
27-Nov Western Michigan 56
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?