Mountain West Football: Get To Know The Toledo Rockets
Toledo faces Nevada and Fresno State in the next two weeks, so we talked with Brian Buckey of the Toledo Blade to preview Rockets football.
Prepare for two weeks of MACtion.
The Toledo Rockets will have an interesting two weeks ahead of them. This Saturday, they will host the Nevada Wolf Pack in what appears to be a potential offensive bonanza, and then they will travel to the San Joaquin Valley to square off with the Fresno State Bulldogs the following weekend.
Jason Candle’s team remains as dangerous as ever despite a tough home loss to Miami (FL) last week. The defending MAC champions still possess one of the Group of 5’s most powerful offenses, so the Pack and the ‘Dogs will have their work cut out for them.
Mountain West Wire: How has life after Logan Woodside looked so far for Toledo? What can we expect to see from the quarterback position in the next couple weeks?
Brian Buckey: So far so good for Mitch Guadagni, Logan Woodside’s replacement. Guadagni has looked very solid over the first few games. He had an easy test in the opener against VMI and then a much tougher one against Miami (Fla.). Against Miami, he started slow but ended up with two TD passes against a good Miami defense. He’s seen kind of both extremes as far as how tough the opposing defenses were to open the season. It will be interesting to see what he does in the next two games.
MWW: One thing we noticed in looking back at last week’s game against Miami is that the Rockets struggled to contain the Hurricanes’ pass rush, allowing four sacks. Who in that unit, if anyone, is on the spot to correct that against a pair of solid defensive fronts?
BB: The offensive line for Toledo is kind of a work in progress. They have a few guys that are still not back from injuries from last year and they are trying to find the right combinations. They have some experience and they are also working in newcomers like right tackle Brock Ruble, a grad transfer from Florida State. I think Ruble and left tackle Cameron Bell have the most pressure on them when going up against a good pass rush, just because they have to contain the edge rushers.
MWW: Nevada and Fresno State have all-conference caliber receivers in McLane Mannix and KeeSean Johnson, respectively, so who do you think will be primarily responsible for containing those two?
BB: Ka’dar Hollman is the top cover corner for Toledo and he is the only senior in a young cornerbacks group. He will most likely draw the assignment of shutting down teams’ top receivers.
MWW: Nevada’s Air Raid offense likes to lead with the pass while Fresno State likes to be more balanced, so how do you think Toledo’s defensive game plan might change while facing two contrasting styles?
BB: I think no matter what the style is, Toledo defensive scheme is pretty much the same. Against an Air Raid offense like Nevada’s, they will probably have to rotate in more defensive backs based on formations and they will have to get a good pass rush to disrupt the rhythm of the Nevada offense. I don’t think that should change too much against Fresno State as Toledo will stick to their 4-2-5 defensive scheme and really try to slow down the running game.
MWW: Finally, how do you see the next two weeks against Nevada and Fresno State unfolding? What predictions do you have for the back-to-back Mountain West tilts?
BB: I see Toledo bouncing back against Nevada at home, while the game at Fresno State will be much tougher. I think it’s a close game at Fresno that can really go either way.