The Toledo Rockets returned to The Glass Bowl with an impressive 49-10 victory over Norfolk State from the historic MEAC.
NSU was welcoming a new head coach and playing their first game since 2019, seeing the field for the first time as a brand new unit.
While the game served to be a pretty standard tune up before next week’s real test against Notre Dame, there were still lessons to be learned.
Need a QB? Toledo’s got plenty!
Carter Bradley had a solid day in his first start as the unquestioned starter, going 8-of-12 for 183 yards and a touchdown. He flashed big play potential, hitting Devin Maddox for 84 yards.
His stat-line would have been better if the game had been closer and he needed to play longer.
Backup quarterback Dequan Finn played well in relief. He led the Rockets with 82 yards rushing and had a 24-yard touchdown run. He was an efficient 4-of-5 passing for 38 yards.
Third string QB Tucker Gleason, a Georgia Tech transfer, also made his Rocket debut, completing a 15-yarder on his lone pass attempt of the day.
The Rockets have had their share of quarterback attrition and injuries in recent years, including Eli Peters forgoing his last year of eligibility. Having depth and playmaking ability from the quarterback position will be crucial for the Rockets.
A big victory, but there’s some cause for concern
49-10 is an impressive final score, but some of the underlying stats present some cause for concern.
For starters, the Rockets were penalized 12 times for 140 yards. Three of those penalties resulted in Spartan first downs. I know it’s only Week 1, but in a more competitive game, that many penalties would have a decidedly more adverse effect.
They also lost 34 yards rushing to an FCS defense, which is less than ideal for one of the more veteran line presences in the MAC.
The Rockets were also caught napping on a big play, 47-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter when the game was still very much in the air as to who would take it home. Without two early special teams touchdowns, this game might have had a whole different look. (more on that in a moment.)
All in all, it was a pretty standard week one stat-line for Toledo and easy to ignore such issues. Against Notre Dame, they won’t be as easy to ignore.
Bryant Koback is still who we thought he was
Bryant Koback picked up where he left off. He had nine carries for 52 yards and a two-touchdowns on nine carries. He had a 5.8 yards per carry average.
Like Carter Bradley, his stat-line could have been better if the Rockets needed it to be as they seemed to hold him back against an FCS opponent. We have seen him carry the load as needed and is as close to a bell-cow back in the MAC this side of Kevin Marks.
He’s now at 32 touchdowns on his career after the effort.
The Rockets special teams remain special
Cody Thompson, Eric Page is that you?
Year in and year out, it seems like the Rockets have one of the MAC’s best special team’s units and this year is apparently no different.
The Rockets had two first half special team’s touchdowns to put what was a close game out of reach early.
Maxen Hook picked up a DeMeer Blankmusee punt and returned it 24 yards for six, while Jacquez Stuart scooped and scored off of a Maxen Hook block with a 14-yard return.
They Rockets also recovered a muffed kick-off and kicker Thomas Cluckey was six-for-six on point after attempts.
Rocket fans are back
Few MAC programs have as loyal fan support as the Rockets, and Toledo welcomed fans back to The Glass Bowl to the tune of over 21,000 fans for a Saturday night game against an inferior FCS opponent.
That’s a very encouraging sign for the Rockets, who could use all the helop they can get to live up to their preseason expectations.