How effectively Toledo could replace the program’s all-time leading passer was the burning question through the 2018 season. Logan Woodside left with legendary status after leading the FBS in touchdown passes in 2017, guiding Toledo to its first MAC title of the decade in 2018, and throwing for over 10,500 yards as a Rocket.
When Woodside graduated, Toledo turned to junior Mitchell Guadagni. Guadagni wasn’t aiming to be the next Logan Woodside; he was aiming to be the first Mitchell Guadagni. While Woodside served more as a pocket passer, Guadagni added an element of mobility to the quarterback position at Toledo. An adept scrambler, Guadagni also served as an efficient passer in his first year as the program’s starter. His scrambling abilities often led to extended plays which in turn caused wide receivers to free up on defensive backs late in their routes. Not too many quarterbacks moved around the pocket like Guadagni did last year in his seven games.
Most scramble yards last season (drop back, non-sack)— That's so David (@ADavidHaleJoint) August 9, 2019
Bryce Perkins, 482
Kyler Murray, 421
Woody Barrett, 399
Mitchell Guadagni, 367
Eric Dungey, 357
Terry Wilson, 349
However, Guadagni battled injuries throughout the year. After suffering an injury in the first half of a 49-27 loss to Fresno State, he never returned to full strength. Guadagni played sparingly at quarterback in conference play before succumbing to a season-ending shoulder injury in the first half of a 51-24 win over Western Michigan on October 25.
Through seven games, he completed 57.5 percent of his passes for 1,053 yards and 13 touchdowns. Guadagni boasted an impressive 13-to-3 touchdown-to-interception ratio considering it was his first season as a collegiate starter. His most complete performance as a quarterback transpired in Toledo’s strongest non-conference win of the year, a 63-44 decision against Nevada. In a shootout which featured heavy doses of offense, Guadagni passed for four touchdowns and zero interceptions on 211 yards.
His running ability was also on full display during that win, contributing two additional touchdowns and 131 yards on the ground. In Guadagni’s seven games, he surpassed the 130 rushing yard mark twice and totaled 428 rushing yards on the year — good for 5.6 yards per carry.
When Guadagni went down in October, Toledo turned to the younger Eli Peters at the position. Guadagni will continue to battle Peters (146-of-265, 1,837 yards, 18 touchdowns, 7 interceptions) in camp but the Rockets will likely turn to their 2018 Week 1 starter for Toledo’s opener against Kentucky. Peters possesses good deep ball mechanics that Guadagni must add to his arsenal to become even more lethal at the quarterback position. Guadagni’s experience, versatility, and playmaking skills aren’t just good enough to win him the job at Toledo — the former 3-star recruit could start for a handful of Power 6 programs across the country.
Guadagni will be working with younger receiver depth this year, so he’ll possess a greater leadership role in Jason Candle’s offense. Diontae Johnson was selected by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the third round of the NFL Draft, while Cody Thompson and Jon’Vea Johnson were picked up as free agents by the Kansas City Chiefs and Dallas Cowboys, respectively. Guadagni retains senior wideouts Danzel McKinley-Lewis and Desmond Phillips who have seen considerable amounts of playing time in past seasons, but the loss of a talented receiving corps could cause Toledo to rely more on the running game with Bryant Koback or with Guadagni himself.
The speed and break-tackle abilities of the incoming senior can create home run plays for the Rockets like this 34-yard scamper against Nevada.
And plays like this are the reason Toledo fans can’t wait to see #6 get back on the field.