Midseason MAC Grades: Toledo Might Be the Best Darn .500 Team Around

We're six weeks in. Most the teams have played six games, so this is the perfect time to dole out some midseason grades. All grades are final but protests may be submitted to the instructor, although this rarely helps.

Offense: The two QB system has been working surprisingly well for Toledo. Austin Dantin and Terrance Owens both get a couple of drives, and whoever (whomever?) is throwing the ball better gets it the rest of the way. Unfortunately, adding a 3rd quarterback has produced some hilarious results: sophomore Dwight Macon came in for a trick play against Temple, but has coughed the ball up a couple of times since.

Of course, it's easy to look good when you've got a receiving corps like Toledo has. Eric Page took possession of the Rockets' all-time receptions record last week, Bernard Reedy is good enough to draw attention in the D as well, and the running backs are adept at catching the ball as well, marking the return of the bubble screen to Toledo's playbook.

Speaking of the backs, we all caught our collective breath when Adonis Thomas went down against Syracuse. The good news is that Morgan Williams has decided to shake off the whole "3rd stringer" thing and has put up some monstrous numbers: 5 touchdowns since his number was called up. David Fluellen may be the 2nd guy on the depth chart, but Morgan is showing us what he showed us in 2008.

The turnovers aren't an issue, the line is doing it's job... this offense is right where it needs to be. Final Grade: A.

Defense: There was one thing that Coach Beckman was giddy about coming into the season: the fully transformed defensive line. It used to be that Toledo couldn't stop the run at all. Why did you hear Barry Church's name come up so much in the past? Because he had to come up from the Star position and stop the runner that just broke through the line. No more of that, even with the injuries, the Rockets rush defense is 3rd best in the MAC, allowing only 132 yards/game. And that's after staring down Bernard Pierce and not blinking.

The weakest point for this Toledo team has been it's passing defense. It seems like whenever a team needs a big 3rd down conversion, they get it through the air. It hasn't been really bad (as long as you ignore Boise, and I am), but they've been burned more than once. The good news is that 7 picks makes those bad vibes go away. Final Grade: B

Special Teams: Do I really need to say anything except "#12"? He finally brought home a punt return for a score last week (Lance Moore was the last Rocket to bring back a punt). But it's more than that: the Rockets have a guy in Ryan Casano that can actually split the uprights, and an up-and-comer in Jeremiah Detmer who drilled that 52-yarder in the Carrier Dome. And Vince Penza... well, Vince is a really nice guy (averaging 37 yards/punt). Final Grade: A-minus

Overall: I could lament the penalties at Ohio State. I could curse the Big East officiating crew. But that win over Temple said one simple thing: they've still got the pieces to make this happen. Northern Illinois still looms (as does Western Michigan, my goodness), as does the battle for the Peace Pipe Street Sign, and I'm no less confident now than I was at the start of the season. Final Grade: A

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