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Death, taxes, and Toledo football falling just short of a MAC title shot. What about 2016?

Establishing this level of consistent success is very impressive, but Rockets fans want a ring to show for it. This is Bill C's daily preview series, working its way through every 2016 team. Stay tuned!

Robert Duyos-USA TODAY Sports

Confused? Check out the advanced-stats glossary here. Below, a unique review of last year's team, a unit-by-unit breakdown of this year's roster, the full 2016 schedule with win projections for each game, and more.

1. The succession plan

In the parity-happy MAC, almost everybody gets to win occasionally, and almost everybody has to deal with cyclical comeuppance. The level of talent and revenue from top to bottom is perhaps closer in this conference than in any other (the Sun Belt is the only other conference in the race), and so much depends on coaching hires and development.

The exceptions: EMU almost never gets to be good, and Toledo almost never has to be bad.

Since Chuck Stobart led the Rockets to a California Bowl win and a 9-3 finish in 1981, they have dealt with just seven losing records in 35 years, and four of them came in a four-year stretch in the last decade (2006-09), when they were dealing with the fallout from a point-shaving incident. Before 2006, they had been to four bowls in five years and hadn't finished below .500 since 1993. Since 2009, they've been bowling five times in six years and have won at least nine games four times.

Since then-AD Al Bohl fired Dan Simrell in 1989 for 'only' going 6-5 (which caused an outcry), order of succession has worked wonders. Bohl hired Nick Saban, who went 9-2 in his lone season then left to become defensive coordinator of the Cleveland Browns. On his way out the door, Saban recommended another former Washington assistant, his good friend (and fellow Kent State alum) Gary Pinkel.

Pinkel stayed for 10 years and became the school's all-time winningest coach, then left to become the winningest coach at Missouri. His defensive coordinator, Tom Amstutz, took over. That worked beautifully for five years (Amstutz had a 45-18 record in that time) until point-shaving and program maintenance became an issue.

So Toledo started a new chain. Former Bowling Green and Oklahoma State defensive coordinator Tim Beckman came in and, after a one-year breaking-in period, began to win again. After three years, he left for the Illinois job and was replaced by young offensive coordinator Matt Campbell. Campbell stayed for four years, won nine games three times, and left for Iowa State. His replacement: young Toledo offensive coordinator Jason Candle.

A coaching hire is a serious crapshoot. It is difficult to know whether someone will work out, and it seems when we're sure we know the answer, we're wrong.

At least, that's the case when Toledo isn't involved. If we count Amstutz as a solid hire -- if a hire produces five good years out of the gates, that's really all you can ask for -- then Toledo has made somewhere between five and 10 good hires in a row. The program is built, the culture is in place, and the order of succession is clear.

It feels easy to assume Candle (who is already 1-0 after leading the team to an easy bowl win over a good Temple) will do well, win for a few years, then head off for a power conference job. And his replacement (offensive coordinator Brian Wright, perhaps?) will take over and win, too.

There's still room for growth, however. As strong as the Rockets have been since Beckman took over -- the Rockets have finished in the S&P+ top 70 for six straight years and have twice finished in the top 25 (21st in 2015) -- they haven't won a MAC West title since 2004. They have graded out better than NIU on paper for four of the last five years, but they have consistently figured out a way to stumble in the Huskies' presence. They've lost six games in a row to NIU (four times by one possession), and NIU has won the division every year in that span.

To say the least, this has held the program back, from both a perceptions standpoint and one of morale. Toledo is once again projected ahead of NIU. But without a November 9 win in DeKalb, it might once again feel like the season came up one step short of greatness.

2015 Schedule & Results

Record: 10-2 | Adj. Record: 10-2 | Final F/+ Rk: 20 | Final S&P+ Rk: 21
Date Opponent Opp. F/+ Rk Score W-L Percentile
Performance
Win
Expectancy
vs. S&P+ Performance
vs. Vegas
12-Sep vs. Arkansas 11 16-12 W 52% 34% +20.4 +25.5
19-Sep Iowa State 79 30-23 W 48% 57% -2.3 -0.5
26-Sep Arkansas State 71 37-7 W 94% 100% +22.4 +22.5
3-Oct at Ball State 110 24-10 W 84% 100% +5.1 +7.5
10-Oct Kent State 109 38-7 W 94% 100% +3.4 +16.5
17-Oct Eastern Michigan 122 63-20 W 80% 99% +14.9 +14.0
24-Oct at Massachusetts 100 51-35 W 66% 87% -0.4 +1.5
3-Nov Northern Illinois 66 27-32 L 35% 22% -16.7 -12.0
10-Nov at Central Michigan 67 28-23 W 83% 95% +2.1 +8.0
17-Nov at Bowling Green 25 44-28 W 82% 85% +21.9 +24.0
27-Nov Western Michigan 51 30-35 L 51% 44% -16.1 -13.0
22-Dec vs. Temple 45 32-17 W 93% 100% +12.1

Category Offense Rk Defense Rk
S&P+ 33.3 39 20.4 21
Points Per Game 35.0 31 20.8 21

2. Two eggs

Toledo has gotten used to playing the what-if game. In five of six years during this NIU losing streak, a win over the Huskies would have given the Rockets the division crown. But while each year has been twinged with regret, 2015 carried a little bit more.

Toledo was awesome. The Rockets were one of only two teams to hold a fantastic Arkansas offense under 21 points (the other: Alabama). They followed that with a win over Iowa State and a romp over what turned out to be a strong Arkansas State. Of their six MAC wins, five were by at least 14. They ran away from Temple late in the Boca Raton Bowl.

But mixed within these great results were two rotten ones. First came the annual stumble. NIU was on its backup quarterback, and Toledo took a 10-point lead in the first quarter, but NIU managed to score 16 of the game's final 19 points and win while getting outgained.

Toledo got a lifeline. A late Husky loss to Ohio opened the door. All the Rockets had to do was beat WMU at home, and they'd take the West. And they lost, 35-30, again while outgaining their opponent.

Toledo was mostly awesome in 10 wins. The Rockets were both subpar and a little unlucky in two losses. Maybe that luck turns around one day.

Offense

FIVE FACTORS -- OFFENSE
Raw Category Rk Opp. Adj. Category Rk
EXPLOSIVENESS IsoPPP 1.36 22 IsoPPP+ 108.1 41
EFFICIENCY Succ. Rt. 41.8% 66 Succ. Rt. + 98.3 80
FIELD POSITION Def. Avg. FP 30.3 77 Def. FP+ 29.2 56
FINISHING DRIVES Pts. Per Scoring Opportunity 4.4 72 Redzone S&P+ 96.6 93
TURNOVERS EXPECTED 19.8 ACTUAL 14 -5.8
Category Yards/
Game Rk
S&P+ Rk Success
Rt. Rk
PPP+ Rk
OVERALL 30 53 80 41
RUSHING 28 57 81 39
PASSING 40 56 71 51
Standard Downs 77 96 65
Passing Downs 32 53 25
Q1 Rk 57 1st Down Rk 32
Q2 Rk 71 2nd Down Rk 78
Q3 Rk 67 3rd Down Rk 25
Q4 Rk 23

Quarterback

Note: players in bold below are 2016 returnees. Players in italics are questionable with injury/suspension.

Player Ht, Wt 2016
Year
Rivals 247 Comp. Comp Att Yards TD INT Comp
Rate
Sacks Sack Rate Yards/
Att.
Phillip Ely 226 403 2965 23 10 56.1% 3 0.7% 7.3
Logan Woodside
(2014)
6'2, 210 Jr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8042 185 296 2263 19 8 62.5% 9 3.0% 7.2
Michael Julian 6'5, 215 Jr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8201 5 7 71 1 0 71.4% 0 0.0% 10.1
Quentin Gibson 6'3, 195 Jr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8223
Mitchell Guadagni 6'2, 200 RSFr. 2 stars (5.3) 0.8296
Eli Peters 6'3, 210 Fr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8432

3. Succession plan, part 2

Alabama transfer Phillip Ely beat out Logan Woodside in a spirited battle for the starting job in 2014, but he suffered a season-ending knee injury just two games and 68 passes into his season, so Woodside took over and thrived. He produced a 142.5 passer rating and a 19-to-8 TD-to-INT ratio, and he would have done even better if he hadn't been slowed by an ankle injury late in the year.

In 2015, Campbell pulled off what you or I would attempt in a video game: He started Ely again and redshirted Woodside. Ely did pretty well -- an iffy early-season completion rate (48 percent through three games) -- dragged down his passer rating, but he was fantastic thereafter (NIU game aside, of course).

Ely was denied a sixth year of eligibility, but Toledo loses a starting quarterback and returns a starting quarterback.

Toledo now has four QBs on the roster who a) were three-star recruits and b) have been on campus for at least one year. But Woodside is the man, and one assumes he will do well. [Update: Illinois quarterback Eli Peters transferred to Toledo, but will sit out his freshman season because he enrolled early.]

Granted, he's playing under a new coordinator, but only because his old one is now the head coach. Wright will bring his own tweaks, but Woodside has an accurate arm, an experienced line, and a loaded set of skill position guys in his favor. He'll probably produce strong numbers once again.

Running Back

Player Pos. Ht, Wt 2016
Year
Rivals 247 Comp. Rushes Yards TD Yards/
Carry
Hlt Yds/
Opp.
Opp.
Rate
Fumbles Fum.
Lost
Kareem Hunt RB 6'0, 225 Sr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8033 178 973 12 5.5 5.8 39.3% 0 0
Terry Swanson RB 5'10, 202 Jr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7963 143 923 7 6.5 7.5 37.8% 0 0
Damion Jones-Moore RB 5'7, 190 Sr. 2 stars (5.3) 0.7934 83 410 5 4.9 4.2 37.3% 0 0
Marc Remy RB 6'0, 195 Sr. 2 stars (5.3) NR 30 179 0 6.0 4.4 46.7% 0 0
Phillip Ely QB 23 35 1 1.5 2.3 21.7% 5 0
Michael Julian QB 6'5, 215 Jr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8201 6 64 0 10.7 3.9 100.0% 0 0
Corey Jones WR 5'9, 165 Sr. 3 stars (5.7) 0.8893 4 27 0 6.8 8.5 50.0% 2 1
Brad Smith RB 5'8, 195 So. NR NR 4 14 0 3.5 0.5 50.0% 0 0
Art Thompkins RB 5'8, 175 RSFr. 2 stars (5.3) 0.7992
Ronnie Jones RB 6'1, 185 Fr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8126
Shakif Seymour RB 5'11, 215 Fr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.7954







4. Efficiency helps

Toledo had to replace all five starters from its offensive line last year (including three all-conference performers), and there were some predictable growing pains with the new guys. Toledo fell from 21st to 91st in Adj. Line Yards, from fourth to 66th in opportunity rate, from 58th to 95th in power success rate, and from eighth to 42nd in stuff rate.

The line did the backs no favors, in other words. The trio of Kareem Hunt, Terry Swanson, and Damion Jones-Moore all went from having an opportunity rate of 48 percent or better (Hunt was at an incredible 53 percent in 2014) to falling below 40 percent. This was still a decent run game this trio of backs is as good as anyone's, but the Rockets were far less efficient and far more reliant on big plays.

In theory, this shifts upward in 2016. The line returns four of five starters, including all-conference tackle Storm Norton (who keyed fantastic pass protection) and introduces a new load of three-star youngsters into the rotation. Meanwhile, Hunt, Swanson, and Jones-Moore are all back, as is senior Marc Remy. The foursome averaged 36 carries and 207 yards per game last year, and that was with inefficiency. The same number of carries could generate 220-plus this year. And Toledo will find itself in fewer second-and-longs.

Receiving Corps

Player Pos. Ht, Wt 2016
Year
Rivals 247 Comp. Targets Catches Yards Catch Rate Target
Rate
Yds/
Target
%SD Success
Rate
IsoPPP
Corey Jones SLOT 5'9, 165 Sr. 3 stars (5.7) 0.8893 86 55 577 64.0% 21.8% 6.7 59.3% 45.3% 1.43
Alonzo Russell WR-X 75 36 618 48.0% 19.0% 8.2 42.7% 44.0% 1.82
Cody Thompson WR-Z 6'1, 202 Jr. 2 stars (5.3) 0.7483 66 37 825 56.1% 16.7% 12.5 57.6% 51.5% 2.25
Michael Roberts TE 6'4, 265 Sr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8125 38 21 234 55.3% 9.6% 6.2 44.7% 55.3% 1.07
Diontae Johnson WR-X 5'11, 175 So. 2 stars (5.3) NR 26 14 237 53.8% 6.6% 9.1 57.7% 42.3% 2.16
Kishon Wilcher SLOT 24 12 125 50.0% 6.1% 5.2 62.5% 41.7% 1.18
Jon'Vea Johnson WR 6'0, 183 So. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8330 17 8 101 47.1% 4.3% 5.9 47.1% 41.2% 1.28
Terry Swanson RB 5'10, 202 Jr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7963 15 13 71 86.7% 3.8% 4.7 73.3% 53.3% 0.77
Kareem Hunt RB 6'0, 225 Sr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8033 14 11 45 78.6% 3.5% 3.2 42.9% 7.1% 3.77
Marc Remy RB 6'0, 195 Sr. 2 stars (5.3) NR 10 9 42 90.0% 2.5% 4.2 40.0% 30.0% 1.22
Alex Zmolik TE 9 6 51 66.7% 2.3% 5.7 66.7% 66.7% 0.88
Darryl Richards WR 6'3, 185 Jr. 2 stars (5.4) NR 3 2 40 66.7% 0.8% 13.3 66.7% 66.7% 2.16
Zach Yousey WR 6'1, 190 Sr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.7633
Marcus Whitfield WR 5'11, 178 So. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8148
Andrew Davis WR 6'4, 192 So. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7973
Neru N'Shaka WR 5'11, 180 Fr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8252
Calvin Jackson WR 5'10, 165 Fr. 2 stars (5.3) 0.8060
Desmond Phillips WR 5'11, 170 Fr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8050

5. More than enough receivers

2015 Ely produced a few more big plays than 2014 Woodside did, but Woodside was the more efficient QB of the two. It will be interesting to see what that means for this year's receiving corps. Corey Jones was more successful with Woodside -- 2014: 69 percent catch rate and 12.4 yards per catch; 2015: 64 percent and 10.5, respectively -- but Cody Thompson was a wonderful big-play threat with Ely.

We'll see about chemistry, but experience is on Toledo's side. Eight of last year's top 10 targets are back, including Jones, Thompson, big tight end Michael Roberts. Sophomores Diontae Johnson and Jon'Vea Johnson might be ready to earn a few more targets as well.

Jones was a frequent target on both second-and-long and third-and-short last season; if the latter is more frequent than the former -- and with a more efficient run game, it should be -- one assumes both his numbers and Woodside's numbers will be strong.

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 96 2.96 2.38 38.9% 61.4% 17.9% 478.6 0.5% 1.7%
Rank 91 55 118 66 95 42 1 1 2
Player Pos. Ht, Wt 2016
Year
Rivals 247 Comp. 2015 Starts Career Starts Honors/Notes
Storm Norton LT 6'8, 306 Sr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7976 12 15 2015 1st All-MAC
Paul Perschon LG 6'6, 310 Sr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8035 12 12
Ruben Carter C 12 12
Elijah Nkansah RT 6'6, 295 Jr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7733 12 12
Mike Ebert RG 6'6, 298 Sr. 2 stars (5.3) 0.7880 6 6
Nate Jeppesen LG 6'3, 292 Jr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7700 6 6
Sami Kassem RG 6'4, 320 Sr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.7833 0 0
Brant Weiss RT 6'6, 280 Jr. NR NR 0 0
Bill Weber OL 6'5, 305 So. 2 stars (5.3) 0.7719 0 0
Cameron Bell LT 6'8, 360 RSFr. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8382

Bryce Harris C 6'5, 285 RSFr. 2 stars (5.3) 0.8031

Chandler Cotterman OL 6'4, 305 RSFr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8189

Jordan Fair OL 6'5, 281 RSFr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7962

Brandon Heidecker OL 6'6, 309 RSFr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7941

Luke Doerger OL 6'3, 300 Fr. 2 stars (5.3) 0.8091

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Defense

FIVE FACTORS -- DEFENSE
Raw Category Rk Opp. Adj. Category Rk
EXPLOSIVENESS IsoPPP 1.19 30 IsoPPP+ 117.6 19
EFFICIENCY Succ. Rt. 37.8% 28 Succ. Rt. + 112.6 27
FIELD POSITION Off. Avg. FP 32.4 23 Off. FP+ 32.8 14
FINISHING DRIVES Pts. Per Scoring Opportunity 3.4 10 Redzone S&P+ 131.6 6
TURNOVERS EXPECTED 29.6 ACTUAL 22.0 -7.6
Category Yards/
Game Rk
S&P+ Rk Success
Rt. Rk
PPP+ Rk
OVERALL 46 18 27 19
RUSHING 10 8 21 4
PASSING 107 30 36 30
Standard Downs 13 25 6
Passing Downs 37 38 40
Q1 Rk 29 1st Down Rk 44
Q2 Rk 23 2nd Down Rk 14
Q3 Rk 19 3rd Down Rk 30
Q4 Rk 68

6. A crafty hire

Candle went outside of the line of succession in selecting his defensive coordinator, but his hire made all sorts of sense. Brian George spent the last five years at Kent State -- he was the defensive line coach the whole time and spent the last three seasons as defensive coordinator.

George's half-decade in Kent produced two top-30 Def. S&P+ rankings and four years in the top 80. He figured out ways to create disruption up front with what were sometimes undersized starters; last year, Kent State ranked eighth in Adj. Sack Rate.

His year at Toledo will require some retooling. Gone are five of the Rocket's top seven linemen and four of five starters in the secondary.

Toledo's run defense was fantastic last year, and if George can create a disruptive presence in the front, the front seven should be strong enough to overcome turnover in the back. But he faces some pressure to produce right out of the gates.

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 129.6 1.97 3.13 34.0% 71.8% 28.0% 79.7 4.4% 4.3%
Rank 3 1 57 23 99 4 97 89 115
Name Pos Ht, Wt 2016
Year
Rivals 247 Comp. GP Tackles % of Team TFL Sacks Int PBU FF FR
Trent Voss DE 12 50.5 7.2% 9.5 1.0 0 5 2 0
Allen Covington DE 11 35.5 5.1% 12.0 4.5 0 2 1 0
Orion Jones DT 12 32.5 4.6% 12.0 6.0 0 0 0 1
Treyvon Hester DT 6'4, 305 Sr. 3 stars (5.7) 0.8000 12 25.5 3.6% 6.5 2.5 0 1 1 0
John Stepec DE 6'3, 260 Sr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8190 12 18.0 2.6% 5.5 3.0 0 1 0 0
Keenen Gibbs DE 11 14.5 2.1% 3.5 3.0 0 1 1 0
Tre James DE 12 4.5 0.6% 3.0 3.0 0 0 1 0
Marquise Moore DT 6'0, 300 Sr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8033 12 2.5 0.4% 0.0 0.0 0 0 0 0
Olasunkanmi Adeniyi DE 6'2, 250 So. 2 stars (5.2) 0.7733 7 2.0 0.3% 0.0 0.0 0 0 0 0
Chris Collins DT 9 2.0 0.3% 0.0 0.0 0 0 0 0
Earl Moore
(Miami)
DT 6'1, 305 Sr. 3 stars (5.7) 0.8603
Daniel Davis DE 6'3, 260 Jr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.7500
Tuzar Skipper DE 6'4, 245 Jr. 2 stars (5.3) 0.7889
Jhonny Williams
(Notre Dame)
DE 6'5, 260 So. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8401
Obi Anunike DE 6'4, 215 Fr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8297
Edrick Mathews DT 6'3, 276 Fr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8228
David Hood DT 6'1, 273 Fr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7924








7. A drastically underrated line rebuilds

Third in Adj. Line Yards, fourth in stuff rate, eighth in Rushing S&P+ 23rd in opportunity rate. Pick your adverb: Toledo's defensive line was drastically, substantially, seriously, extremely, desperately underrated last year.

Now begins the rebuild, especially on the edge. Four of the top five ends are gone after combining for 28 tackles for loss, 11.5 sacks, and eight pass breakups. Defensive tackle and sacks leader Orion Jones is also out the door.

A couple of difference makers return: end John Stepec and big tackle Treyvon Hester were both in the rotation last year and combined for 12 TFLs of their own. But after that, it's hard to say who will be involved and who will thrive. Tackle Marquise Moore was a contributor in 2013 and began 2014 as a starter before injury, but he barely played last year. Miami transfer Earl Moore and Notre Dame transfer Jhonny Williams could join the rotation, as could JUCO transfer Tuzar Skipper.

Even with a couple of power-conference additions, it's fair to assume the line will regress. But a solid, experienced linebacking corps could make up at least a little bit of the difference. Toledo loses a starter in Chase Murdock but returns basically 1.5 thanks to Jaylen Coleman, who started half the year before injury.Between Coleman, Woodley, sophomores Richard Olekanma and Tyler Taafe, and Florida transfer Jeremi Powell, there should be enough options to produce a strong linebacking corps.

Linebackers

Name Pos Ht, Wt 2016
Year
Rivals 247 Comp. GP Tackles % of Team TFL Sacks Int PBU FF FR
Chase Murdock MIKE 12 69.5 9.9% 8.0 0.0 0 3 2 0
Ja'Wuan Woodley WILL 5'11, 233 Jr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7800 12 36.5 5.2% 6.5 2.0 1 0 2 0
Jaylen Coleman LB 6'0, 235 Sr. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8310 6 34.5 4.9% 2.5 0.0 1 1 1 0
Jack Linch LB 6'0, 218 Jr. NR NR 11 14.5 2.1% 0.0 0.0 0 0 0 0
Richard Olekanma WILL 6'2, 240 So. 2 stars (5.3) 0.7733 12 9.0 1.3% 0.0 0.0 0 0 0 0
Jeremi Powell
(Florida)
LB 6'0, 224 Sr. 4 stars (5.8) 0.9147 7 8.0 1.1% 1.0 0.0 0 0 0 0
Tyler Taafe MIKE 6'1, 221 So. 2 stars (5.2) 0.7994 12 7.5 1.1% 0.0 0.0 0 0 0 0
Zach Quinn LB 6'3, 225 Jr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7959 10 5.5 0.8% 0.5 0.0 0 0 0 0
Josh High LB 6'0, 222 Sr. NR NR 4 4.0 0.6% 0.0 0.0 0 0 0 0
Anthony Davis LB 6'0, 190 So. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8519








Secondary

Name Pos Ht, Wt 2016
Year
Rivals 247 Comp. GP Tackles % of Team TFL Sacks Int PBU FF FR
Cheatham Norrils CB 12 55.5 7.9% 3.5 0 3 13 0 0
DeJuan Rogers FS 6'1, 191 Sr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8242 10 54.5 7.8% 1 0 1 11 3 1
Rolan Milligan NB 11 41.0 5.9% 4 0 2 3 3 0
Chaz Whittaker SS 12 38.0 5.4% 0 0 2 3 1 0
Christian Dukes CB 12 24.5 3.5% 0 0 0 4 0 0
Connery Swift NB 5'11, 195 Sr. NR NR 12 22.0 3.1% 0.5 0 0 3 0 0
Trevon Mathis CB 6'0, 175 Jr. 2 stars (5.3) 0.7847 11 19.5 2.8% 1 0 1 8 0 0
Delando Johnson SS 6'2, 200 Sr. 3 stars (5.7) 0.8731 12 18.5 2.6% 0 0 0 2 0 0
Juwan Haynes CB 11 15.5 2.2% 0 0 1 2 0 0
Josh Teachey NB 5'11, 172 So. 2 stars (5.2) 0.7774 9 13.0 1.9% 2.5 1 0 7 0 0
Kennedy Frazier DB 6'1, 185 Jr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8059 7 4.5 0.6% 0 0 0 0 0 0
Cameron Mattison DB 6'1, 202 So. 2 stars (5.3) 0.7685 2 2.5 0.4% 0 0 0 0 0 0
Kadar Hollman DB 6'1, 185 So. NR NR 2 2.0 0.3% 0 0 0 0 0 0
Jordan Martin DB 6'2, 205 Jr. 2 stars (5.2) 0.8500
Aaron Covington CB 5'9, 175 RSFr. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8560
Dedarallo Blue NB 6'0, 195 Fr. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8228
Keelon Roberts CB 5'11, 170 Fr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8046
Justin Clark CB 5'11, 165 Fr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7857

8. Wanted: one more CB

Looking at what Toledo lost and looking at what the Rockets return can tell two very different stories.

What the Rockets lost: cornerbacks Cheatham Norrils, Christian Dukes, and Juwan Haynes (combined: 3.5 TFLs, 4 INTs, 19 PBUs), strong safety Chaz Whittaker, nickelback Rolan Milligan. That's quite a bit, especially considering returning production in the secondary tends to have a bigger impact on your defense than production from the front seven.

What the Rockets return: free safety DeJuan Rogers (14 passes defensed), nickels Connery Swift and Josh Teachey (combined: 3 TFLs, 10 PBUs), corner Trevon mathis (nine passes defensed), safety Delando Johnson, plus three-star redshirt freshman Aaron Covington and a pair of three-star true freshmen.

In terms of raw materials, Toledo has quite a bit to be excited about. Teachey was only on the field long enough to record 13 tackles but in that span managed to make 2.5 stops behind the line and get hands on seven passes. Johnson has another year to polish the star-recruit potential he had in high school. Rogers has been around the block.

The odds of a good starting four or five emerging are pretty strong, but you have to worry about depth. An injury or two could make this unit too green to succeed.

Special Teams

Punter Ht, Wt 2016
Year
Punts Avg TB FC I20 FC/I20
Ratio
Nick Ellis 5'11, 170 Sr. 44 39.4 3 12 14 59.1%
Michael Julian 6'5, 215 Jr. 1 36.0 0 0 0 0.0%
Kicker Ht, Wt 2016
Year
Kickoffs Avg TB OOB TB%
Samuel Vucelich 5'11, 185 Jr. 44 57.0 5 4 11.4%
Place-Kicker Ht, Wt 2016
Year
PAT FG
(0-39)
Pct FG
(40+)
Pct
Jameson Vest 5'9, 203 So. 49-50 16-21 76.2% 3-6 50.0%
Returner Pos. Ht, Wt 2016
Year
Returns Avg. TD
Diontae Johnson KR 5'11, 175 So. 32 22.8 0
Kishon Wilcher KR 6 18.2 0
Corey Jones PR 5'9, 165 Sr. 19 10.2 0
Category Rk
Special Teams S&P+ 108
Field Goal Efficiency 92
Punt Return Success Rate 8
Kick Return Success Rate 51
Punt Success Rate 91
Kickoff Success Rate 122

9. Kicks were costly

With Diontae Johnson on kicks and Corey Jones on punts, Toledo's return game was solid in 2015. Unfortunately, anything involving a Toledo player kicking the ball was a bit dicey. Jameson Vest was a decent place-kicker but missed or two too many kicks inside of 40 yards (you'd like your kicker to be over 80 percent on those). But Samuel Vucelich's kickoffs never reached the end znoe, and while Nick Ellis' kicks were often high and unreturnable, they also weren't very long. And the returns Toledo did allow averaged 8.6 yards (71st). That everybody is back in special teams is both a good thing and ... a less good thing.

2016 Schedule & Projection Factors

2016 Schedule
Date Opponent Proj. S&P+ Rk Proj. Margin Win Probability
3-Sep at Arkansas State 89 3.8 59%
10-Sep Maine NR 28.8 95%
17-Sep Fresno State 94 12.1 76%
30-Sep at BYU 35 -8.2 32%
8-Oct at Eastern Michigan 121 14.8 80%
15-Oct Bowling Green 60 3.8 59%
22-Oct Central Michigan 85 9.8 72%
27-Oct Ohio 95 12.3 76%
2-Nov at Akron 97 6.6 65%
9-Nov at Northern Illinois 79 0.3 51%
16-Nov Ball State 101 15.2 81%
25-Nov at Western Michigan 65 -2.3 45%
Projected wins: 7.9
Five-Year F/+ Rk 15.3% (36)
2- and 5-Year Recruiting Rk 87 / 84
2015 TO Margin / Adj. TO Margin* 8 / 9.7
2015 TO Luck/Game -0.7
Returning Production (Off. / Def.) 43% (44%, 43%)
2015 Second-order wins (difference) 9.2 (0.8)

10. Favored in 10 games

Toledo almost certainly won't be as good as last year. An offense that ranked 39th should improve -- it really could be dynamite -- but even with a good coordinator hire, there's probably too much to replace on that 21st-ranked defense for to avoid overall regression.

S&P+ projects the Rockets a conservative 58th overall, both because of the losses at QB and DB and because the inclusion of recruiting rankings in the projections always creates a regression-to-the-mean effect.

But 58th might be good enough to make the Rockets the class of the MAC, or close to it. Toledo ranks first in the conference and is given at least a 45 percent chance of winning in 11 of 12 games.

Of course, Toledo hasn't had recent trouble playing like one of the best teams in this conference. The Rockets have been a consistent upper-tier presence since Beckman's second year, but NIU has constantly gotten in the way. This will be a good team once again, but UT's success in basically two games (at NIU, at WMU) and possibly a third (CMU at home) will determine how fans view it.