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2018 MAC Football Preview: VMI Keydets at Toledo Rockets

The defending MAC champions open 2018 against an FCS team that didn’t win a game last season.

MAC Championship - Akron v Toledo Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images

In what looks to be the lock of the week in the MAC, the reigning, defending, conquering conference champion Toledo Rockets play host to the VMI Keydets on Saturday night. It appears to be a total mismatch on paper as Toledo returns plenty of talent and VMI is coming off of a 0-11 season.

As far as replacing Logan Woodside at QB is concerned, UT head coach Jason Candle has mentioned that junior Mitchell Guadagni will start against VMI while sophomore Eli Peters is likely to see some playing time. Whoever gets to play will have no shortage of offensive weapons as Toledo is the first FBS program to return three receivers that have earned all-conference honors and have caught 10+ touchdowns in a single season: Diontae Johnson, Cody Thompson, and Jon’Vea Johnson.

The two-back tandem of Art Thompkins and Shakif Seymour will be an explosive complement to the passing game and the offensive line has veteran starters in four of five spots. The right tackle spot will be interesting with redshirt freshmen Mitchell Berg and Kelvin Ateman each possibly seeing time at that position.

The defense should be a strength for the Rockets as they return upperclassmen in 10 positions. Kahlil Robinson is a playmaker at cornerback as he hauled in four interceptions last season while safety Josh Teachey is a tackling machine with 56 tackles in 2017.

The Rockets should cruise easily on Saturday as the Keydets averaged eight points per game on offense and 37.1 points per game on defense. It will be interesting to see how the quarterbacks look early against VMI and if the defense can maintain its high standard with five new faces on that side of the ball. If UT can get the win without having any major injuries, that would be huge for the team. Expect a score close to 49-10.