2011 Record: (9-4, 7-1 in MAC)
Head Coach: Matt Campbell (1-0 at Toledo, first year head coach)
Last Bowl Game: 2011 Military Bowl: beat Air Force 42-41
Must Win: 9/22 vs Coastal Carolina, 10/6 vs Central Michigan, 10/27 at Buffalo, 11/20 vs Akron
Revenge: 11/14 at NIU
Toughest Out of Conference: 9/1 at Arizona, 10/20 vs Cincinnati
Stat to Cheer: led the MAC with 42.2 points per game and scored over 50 points four times
Stat to Fear: gave up 136 pass plays of 10 yards or more (worst in the MAC, 111th in Nation)
Phil Steele’s Returning Starters (Offense: 4; Defense: 4; Specialists: 1)
Key Defensive Returnees: LB Robert Bell (78 tackles), LB Dan Molls (70 tackles in 7 games), DL Ben Pike (5 sacks), S Jermaine Robinson (3 INT)
Key Offensive Returnees: QB Terrance Owens (18 TD, 3 INT), QB Austin Dantin (15 TD, 4 INT), RB David Fluellen (493 yds rushing), WR Bernard Reedy (40 rec, 9 TD)
Per Scout.com, they landed 1 4-star and 9 3-star prospects. They landed the #62 class in the Nation and #1 in the MAC. They finished ahead of schools like Wisconsin, UConn, Illinois, USF and Boston College.
Inside Scoop with LetsGoRockets.com:
CFBZ: Tim Beckman has moved on to the Big Ten and Matt Campbell takes the helm. What are your first impressions of Campbell?
LetsGoRockets.com: Our first impressions of Campbell as a head coach are very positive and we’re optimistic about his ability to continue the momentum that Beckman established. Campbell’s bowl victory over Air Force last season showed that he could compete and manage the team, right out of the chute. We’re hoping he can continue to develop the defensive side of the ball while maintaining a high scoring offense.
CFBZ: Toledo must replace WR Eric Page and their top two rushers. Who must step up to fill their shoes?
LetsGoRockets.com: RB David Fluellen will be able to step in immediately and fill the void left in the backfield. Fluellen saw quality playing time last season and is a strong RB ready to showcase his talent. We’re hoping to see receivers Bernard Reedy, Cordale Scott and James Green step in to fill the empty spot vacated by Page entering the NFL draft. We had high expectations for Scott and Green last year as well, just hoping they prove us right this time around.
CFBZ: Toledo’s defense gave up over 400 yards per game to their opponents and 31.7 points per game. Who are some players on defense that need to step up for the Rockets?
LetsGoRockets.com: If the Rocket defense can stay healthy, and that remains to be seen, they should be fine. FS Mark Singer is back this year after a season ending injury last season. Defensive end TJ Fatinikun is back after a mid-season injury. MLB Dan Molls remains healthy after with a foot injury which sidelined him for several games last season. If the starters can start, the Rockets defense will look vastly improved over the injury-riddled 2011 season.
CFBZ: What is your gut feeling on the final record for the 2012 season and what makes the season successful in your eyes?
LetsGoRockets.com: Our out-of-conference schedule isn’t as brutal as it has been in recent years, as the Rockets face Arizona, Wyoming, Coastal Carolina, and Cincinnati, so we feel we have a chance at winning 2 out of the 4 and it wouldn’t be surprising to see 3 out of the 4 become W’s. The toughest game will be Arizona, as they have had the Rockets number now for a few years. If the Rockets can stay healthy, we’re looking at a 9-3 season with a shot at being 10-2, with a few breaks. Anything less than 9-3 will be disappointing after the progress we’ve made in the last few seasons and the momentum we’ve gained.
It’s never good to lose a talent like Eric Page but Toledo does return two QBs that have the ability to be very good and showed it last season. Despite being the third option at RB, David Fluellen managed almost 500 yards and 5.08 yards per carry. Toledo loses four of it’s five targets including the 125 receptions of Eric Page. Bernard Reedy should be ready to step up as the #1 target but Toledo will need some of the other guys to step up around him. I think Toledo will be fine on offense although it might take a little while to find themselves without Page in the line-up.
The guys from LetsGoRockets.com said it best about the defense when they said “if they stay healthy”. Even if they don’t, the Rockets should be good enough on offense to win their fare share of games. One thing to remember is that Toledo has won eight of it’s last nine with the only loss being a 63-60 shout-out loss to Chandler Harnish and NIU. This is really an important year for Toledo football. They have won at least eight games in the past two years after having four straight losing seasons. With a strong season, Toledo can exert themselves as one of the powers in the MAC.
2012 Prediction: 9-3
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