As I prepared to write this preview, I started to look at the statistics for the two teams. On paper, Toledo dominates in pretty much every offensive category. One the field, Toledo managed to score 53 points against BYU. About the only anomaly is when Toledo only scored 31 points against Maine but that was the first game. So why the picture? My thoughts go back to a game in 2012 where Eastern nearly pulled off the upset. With that being said, here goes.
When Toledo has the Ball.
As I said in the introduction, Toledo is an offensive juggernaut. After playing four games, I think the averages tell a story about the team. So far, the Rockets have averaged a little over 45 points per game. This attack is lead by Rocket quarterback Logan Woodside who has a 67.5% completion rate and averages 361 yards per game. This facing an Eagle defense that has yielded 267 yards per game. If there is one hope for the Eagles facing this quarterback, it’s that he’s thrown three interceptions. His main targets appear to be Cody Thompson and Jon’Vea Johson. The Toledo rushing attack led by Kareem Hunt is no slouch either. Over all, they’ve averaged 219 yards per game, with Hunt picking up most of the load with 102 yards per game. They have coughed up the ball three times on the ground. This offense works behind a line that has only yielded two takes so far. It seems like the Eagles have improved greatly in their rush defense but I’m not sure if they’ve improved enough. If the Eagles can force some turnovers, it might take some of the edge off this offense.
When Eastern Michigan has the ball.
It was announced this week that Todd Porter was out with a shoulder injury and Brogan Roback would be the starter. I still haven’t seen enough from Roback to decide whether this is a good thing or not. Granted, he helped engineer the drive that allowed Eastern Michigan to beat Wyoming. He was also fairly efficient against Bowling Green. He is facing a defense that has held opponents to 160 yards passing per game. I think if he can remain cool and not make poor passing decisions, he should be fine. Especially since he is working behind an offensive line that has yielded four sacks so far. I think that if Eastern wants to have a chance, they will have to establish their running game and grind clock. If the Bowling Green is any indication, it looks like Breck Turner will emerge as the leader of this rushing attack. While they have shown promise, they are facing a defense that has yielded 175 yards per game on the ground.
What Conclusions can be drawn from all this.
Toledo is a juggernaut, but with the right plan even a juggernaut can be brought down. So far Toledo has not caused any turnovers in their favor and Eastern has caused several turnovers. Sometimes an overmatched team can level the playing field with turnovers that come at the right time. I think that Eastern Michigan will have to play a mistake free game in order to win and I’m not quite sure if they are up to that task. If Brogan Roback has learned from past mistakes, this might be a good game. If not, well there’s always the Corner Brewery.
How to watch the game.
The game starts at Rynearson Stadium at 3:00 P.M. on Saturday. It can be viewed on the Buckeye Cable Sports network. You can listen to the radio broadcast on WEMU or streaming from WEMU.org. I’m not sure about the Rocket side of things. If the weather can be trusted, it looks like it is going to be party cloudy and in the sixties.