The Toledo Rockets visit the Miami Hurricanes this week, after Hurricane Irma put a dent in their schedule. This will be the first opponent the Miami Hurricanes have faced since the opening week in college football when they squared off with Bethune-Cookman. Coaches look forward to returning to normality after most of the players and coaches were forced to evacuate. Even now, their practices are being held in Orlando at Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports.
Toledo comes into Miami as a formidable opponent for a number of reasons. The Hurricanes haven’t been practicing or training for about three weeks. On top of that the Rockets are beginning to hit their stride. Toledo comes in undefeated and inspired after a 54-51 win over Tulsa, in a game in which they were down 28-7 at one point.
Head coach Jason Candle admitted that the team is excited to play the Miami Hurricanes considerably more than most of their opponents.
High Octane Offense
For the Toledo Rockets they will live and die by whatever output the offense gives them. With a quarterback like Logan Woodside, that’s a chance the Rockets are more than willing to take. Woodside last season threw for over 4000 yards along with 45 touchdowns. On top of breaking numerous school records he has been named to several award watchlists including the Heisman trophy.
As impressive as Woodside is, he understands to put the ball into the hands of his playmakers and the Rockets have plenty of those. Ohio native Cody Thompson is the favorite of the bunch for good reason. Last season Thompson etched his name in school history by producing 1269 yards receiving, the most ever in a single season for the Rockets.
Complimenting Thompson is Diontae Johnson, a burner from the state of Florida, who already has a 99 yard kickoff return and a 69 yard reception. In the backfield the Rockets no longer have Kareem Hunt. He’s now demoralizing NFL defenses. But, his successors are picking up where he left off. Terry Swanson and Art Thompkins are thing one and thing two in the Rockets backfield. Swanson is already fifth in the nation in rushing touchdowns and Thompkins is averaging over six yards per carry.
Bend But Don’t Shatter Defense
Plain and simple the defense for Toledo has to be better. The Achilles heel in the past has been the defense and so far still is. Tulsa was able to come into Toledo and run the ball for over 400 yards. The result was 51 points being scored against them. They are ed by linebacker Ja’Waun Woodley, who is an agile and sideline to sideline linebacker. More production will be needed to limit Mark Walton and Travis Homer. Safety Josh Teachey will also be relied on heavily to stop the Miami ground game.
Even though the defensive performances haven’t been noteworthy as of yet, there is still an advantage over a Miami offense that has not played a football game in weeks. Malik Rosier is still only making his third career start, another factor to keep in mind.
This game will come down to strength versus strength, the Rocket offense head to head with the Miami defense. With such a long lay off expect Woodside to use pace to test the conditioning that defensive front. After not looking like a dominant defense in the home opener, the defensive line for Miami has to establish its presence early. Miami defensive coordinator spoke and said that the Miami defense has to be in midseason form against Toledo regardless of all of the circumstances.