2019 Toledo Rockets Team Preview

After winning the MAC in 2017, Toledo took a bit of a step back in 2018, which could be expected given that the Rockets dealt with a lot of injuries on offense and the losses of stars Logan Woodside and Terry Swanson.

The defense was sketchy at best throughout the course of the season and the offense was inconsistent, leading to a 7-6 record that a lot of MAC teams would kill for but was one of the Rockets’ worst years in a decade.

Offense

A lot comes back from an offense that averaged 40.4 PPG and 6.2 YPP last year, including two quarterbacks with starting experience between Mitchell Guadagni, Eli Peters and stud RB Bryant Koback, who put up 6.0 yards per attempt as a freshman. Shakif Seymour (4.7 YPA) is back as well as Koback’s #2.

The run game has been key to Toledo’s success in years past, last year even more than usual due to injuries at quarterback. Guadagni started the year as the #1 and was a much more risk-taking player than his eventual replacement Eli Peters.

I’d give the edge to Guadagni from what I’ve seen, but whoever is the quarterback will have to throw to a shattered receiving corps that loses the top three and four of the top five. Senior Danzel McKinley-Lewis is a speedy guy to start in the slot, and another senior, Desmond Phillips, was really consistent last season, especially in screens, but is probably best served as a slot as well. Deep threat Bryce Mitchell has been incredibly inconsistent but is good as a home-run threat.

I’m really excited by the offense, and it was excellent last year, but without having to deal with injuries at QB and with Koback with an extra year of experience under his belt, this offense could be one of the best in the G5.

Defense

Toledo got to a 7-6 record last year largely in spite of their defense, which allowed an awful 5.8 YPP. They played with an attacking mentality and were largely successful in pressuring offenses and getting to the quarterback, but they opened themselves up to get beat deep far too often.

Tuzar Skipper and Reggie Howard are gone at the ends after combining for 12.5 sacks and 14 TFL, but sophomores Jamal Hines and Terrance Taylor shone as freshmen and should be able to plug up those holes.

Where I am worried is at the linebacker spot, where Richard Olekanma was a difference maker. He will be replaced by converted tight end Jordan Fisher.

Three starters return in the secondary, including senior S Khalil Robinson with his five career interceptions and there is some youth to be excited about behind him.

There is an incredible amount of young talent on this defense between Hines, Taylor, DT Devonte’ Dunn, CBs DeAmonte King and Desmond Bernard, safeties Caleb Sutherland and Zachary Ford, Saeed Holt and Dyontae Johnson at the second level, and more. The litany of underclassmen that will either start or receive serious playing time means this defense will be well-equipped for 2020 and 2021. As for 2019 I’d expect a step in the right direction.

2019 Outlook

HC Jason Candle has done an incredible job building depth for this team. There is so much to like about this group from the young talent that has been pumped into the program thanks to Candle’s recruiting to the return of star RB Koback, this team will be really good.

Northern Illinois and Western Michigan are at home, and Toledo avoids the entire top three from the East, meaning they’ll be favored in every conference game, whether they can get thru a tough non-conference slate featuring games against Kentucky, BYU, and Colorado State will decide if they will have a shot at double-digit wins going into MAC play.

Schedule

DateOpponentOPP. RANKProj. Margin
31-Augat Kentucky36-8.0
14-SepMurray StateNRN/A
21-Sepat Colorado State1031.9
28-SepBYU581.0
5-OCTWESTERN Michigan865.2
12-OCTAT BOWLING GREEN1188.9
19-OCTAT BALL STATE1137.2
26-OCTEASTERN Michigan1069.6
5-NOVKENT STATE11112.4
13-NOVNORTHERN ILLINOIS855.0
20-NOVat Buffalo1001.3
29-NOVat Central Michigan12210.0

Average Projected Record: 8.2 wins, 3.8 losses (5.9 wins, 2.1 losses)