clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

2017 Spring Football Recap: Toledo Rockets

The sky’s the limit for this team

Northern Illinois v Toledo Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Last season, the Toledo Rockets finished 9-4 behind one of the most prolific offenses in the nation. Gone are some of the biggest weapons on that offense, and some of their best linemen. Returning, however, is quarterback Logan Woodside, so there is a lot of optimism around the program.


Breaking Down the Offense

Quarterbacks

  • Key Returnees: Logan Woodside, Michael Julian, Mitchell Guidagni

Woodside led the nation with 45 touchdown passes, and threw for 317 yards per game. He also completed 69% of his passes. Coach Candle expects much of his senior quarterback, and has been pleased with his intangibles up to this point, according to a quote from Toledo’s Spring Prospectus.

“Logan’s leadership, his accountability, and his buy-in to the program have been outstanding. His value as a leader is at an all-time high,” said Candle. “He’s going to have to go from making himself better, to making everybody around him better on a day-to-day basis, in the off-season, and throughout next season.”

Running Backs

  • Key Returnees: Terry Swanson, Art Tompkins
  • Key Losses: Kareem Hunt, Damion Jones-Moore
  • Fresh Faces in the Mix: Nevone McCrimmon, Shakif Seymour

Last season, the Rockets had a great two-headed monster in Kareem Hunt and Terry Swanson. It will be interesting to see how their play calling changes without the hunk of flesh Hunt.

Swanson is more of a slasher, and a home run hitter. He had the longest run from scrimmage, with a 63 yard touchdown. He saw significant action last season, rushing for 500 yards on 5 yards per carry.

Tompkins also saw action, rushing for 235 yards on only 29 attempts. He had a 43 yard touchdown early in the season against Maine.

Wide Receivers

  • Key Returnees: Cody Thompson, Jon’Vea Johnson
  • Key Losses: Corey Jones, Zach Yousey
  • Fresh Faces in the Mix: Diontae Johnson, Desmond Phillips, Neru N’Shaka

Cody Thompson had a fantastic season last year, catching 64 balls for 1269 yards, and 11 touchdowns. I look for Thompson to have even more touchdowns this season, because of the loss of Michael Roberts. A big play threat, Thompson had a reception of 30 yards or more in 8 games last season.

Jon’Vea Johnson is also a big play threat, with a 98 yard reception last season. Like Thompson, Johnson also averaged over 19 yards per reception last season. Diontae Johnson was hurt last season as a sophomore, but played in 11 games as a freshman, starting one.

Ohio v Toledo Photo by Andrew Weber/Getty Images

Tight Ends

  • Key Returnees: Adam Kulon, Jordan Fisher
  • Key Loss: Michael Roberts

It will be next to impossible to replace Roberts. He was the go to guy in the red zone all season. Whenever they needed a touchdown or 2 point conversion, they looked his way, and he produced. He finished the season with 16 touchdown receptions.

According the Spring Prospectus, coach Candle is happy with Kulon and Fisher.

Offensive Line

  • Key Returnees: Elijah Nkansah, Nate Jeppesen, Bryce Harris, Brant Weiss, Yazeed Atariwa
  • Key Losses: Storm Norton, Mike Ebert, Paul Perschon
  • Fresh Faces in the Mix: Chandler Cotterman, Brandon Heidecker, Cameron Bell, Luke Doerger

Last season, several of the lineman got hurt midway through the season and missed significant action. The offense clearly struggled, which is bad. What is good is that allowed multiple other linemen to get reps. The unit will be stronger this season because of it.

Even though they have lost some great players, I expect this unit will be a strength next season. A bonus is that they have a senior running back and senior quarterback to make the transition even smoother.


Scouting the Defense

Defensive Line

  • Key Returnees: Marquise Moore, Olasunkanmi Adeniyi, Daniel Davis
  • Key Losses: Treyvon Hester, John Stepec, Earl Moore
  • Fresh Faces to Watch: Reggie Howard, Malik Jones, Obi Anunike

The loss of Hester and Stepec is huge. Both were fantastic players that really set the tone of the defense.

The good news for the Rockets is they have plenty of depth on the line. Along with the players mentioned, there are 3 or 4 other guys that might make an impact on the season.

Much like tight ends on offense, we really don’t know what this unit is going to look like next season.

Linebackers

  • Key Returnees: Ja’Wuan Woodley, Tyler Taafe, Jack Linch, Richard Olekanma
  • Fresh Face to Watch: Tre’shun Wilson

With the return of 3rd team All-MAC Woodley and company, the linebacker corps looks to be set. Taafe is a physical presence, and Olekanma is back from injury.

In the 3-3-5 that Toledo runs, it’s extremely important that the linebackers and safeties don’t miss their lanes, or horrible, frightening things can happen in the run game, like BYU’s Jamaal Williams setting a school single game record 283 yards rushing. As long as the D line can plug their gaps, things like that shouldn’t happen this season.

Northern Illinois v Toledo Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Defensive Backs

  • Key Returnees: Trevon Mathis, Ka’dar Hollman, Josh Teachey
  • Key Losses: DeJuan Rogers, Connery Swift
  • Fresh Faces to Watch: Justin Clark, Keelen Roberts, Kareem Felder, DeDarallo Blue, Anthony Davis, Ronnie Jones, Kahlil Robinson, Jordan Williams

Losing a player the caliber of Rogers is going to hurt, but having two corner backs that started a combined 21 games last season is going to help. The nice thing about having 3 safeties is that losing two means there is still one back there with experience. Coupled with the experience they have at linebacker, I expect the back half of the defense to be taken care of. The main questions for me are on the line.


Season Prognosis

Very good to excellent.

I put their win total on the season somewhere between 9 and 11. The non-conference schedule could be pretty brutal, as they have Miami (Florida), Tulsa, and Nevada. They also have to travel to the always steady Ohio and rival Bowling Green in conference.

If it wasn’t for the schedule, I would be comfortable guaranteeing this team 10 wins. Candle is in his second season as the head man, so certainly last season there was some adjustments. On the same note, Woodside was fighting for the starting QB spot to start last season, where as this season he returns as the man, along with being a Heisman candidate.

There are some questions on defense, but there were questions on defense last season, too. The Rockets offense should be explosive, and able to keep up while the defense gets their feet under them.