Preview: Toledo Comment Count

Brian October 10th, 2008 at 1:33 PM


Run Offense vs. Toledo

Well, it doesn't look like the Rocket defense is much good:

Team Rushes Yards Avg
Arizona 30 162 5.4
EMU 44 172 3.9
Fresno State 34 189 5.6
FIU 45 141 3.1
Ball State 44 240 5.5

(EMU had three "team" rushes for –38 yards that I didn't include, FWIW. Those are usually fumbled snaps or something. I assume a ball flew over the QBs head at least once.)

(Also, this from the FIU box:


A'mod Ned 15 53 2 51 1 3.4 9


However, Michigan's problems on the offensive line are well documented, and running backs not named McGuffie roll themselves in industrial lubricant before each game. Even if you give Michigan the 33 yards they lost on sacks, against Illinois they put up 102 yards on 31 carries, 3.3 YPC. Coming into the game the Illini had been mauled on the ground.

Against Notre Dame and Wisconsin things were better, but the Wisconsin game's final numbers were greatly aided by two late rushes totaling 93 yards. The down-to-down stuff was often caught in the backfield, and you can't rely on 60-yard runs from Steven Threet on a weekly basis.

So… I don't know. I thought this would be a ton better than it was last week because the evidence suggested it, then the Zooker pulls out all this zone read scheming that basically crushes the Michigan run game. Coach Redacted did something right; I have no idea what to think anymore.

I do suggest—again—that this team has nowhere near the athletic ability of a Wisconsin or and Illinois and Michigan should find greater success on the ground than they have recently.

Key Matchup: Rodriguez versus coaching hijinks. I wonder if Toledo will attempt something similar to what Illinois did, and I wonder if Rodriguez will have a response this week.

Pass Offense vs. Toledo

This has been Toledo's greatest statistical weakness. The Rockets check in 109th in pass efficiency D. They're much better—55th—in raw yardage, but getting blown out in three games will do that to you. They appear to have faced two wretched quarterbacks (a rotating duo for Eastern Michigan and Paul McCall for FIU), who they did all right against when their teams let them throw. This was "rarely." Against Arizona, Fresno State, and Ball State, however:

Team Cmp/Att Yards YPA TD-Int
Arizona 25/33 292 8.8 2-0
Fresno St. 22/28 231 8.3 4-0
Ball State 18/30 242 8.1 0-0

That is ugly, ugly, ugly. Compounding matters: Toledo is 93rd in sacks.

This is again where we point out that Steven Threet is erratic and a freshman and sometimes sinks the Michigan passing game by himself; also sometimes Michigan receivers conspire.

Darryl Stonum returns from suspension for Michigan, but Martavious Odoms sustained a shoulder injury in his breakout game against Illinois and will be limited. Michigan will probably try to sit him out. Expect more of Toney Clemons, the only backup in the slot with Terrance Robinson injured, and possibly more sets with Kevin Koger and Mark Moundros on the field.

This looks like a situation in which Michigan will have to stop itself. There will be many people open and plenty of time for Threet; it'll  be a matter of executing.

Key Matchup: Threet versus Tacopants. The main thing I want to see over the remainder of the season is an improvement in Threet's accuracy.

Run Defense vs. Toledo

After a tough game against a BCS foe in Arizona, the Toledo offense blew up for 54 points (41 in regulation) against Fresno State and scored on their first three drives against Florida International. Then the bottom dropped out: Toledo turned the ball over four times and scored three points in the final three quarters against the Neds, then followed that up by getting shut out against Ball State.

Total yards against Letterman U: 157, including a rushing statline that looks like it could be Michigan's:

Team Rushes Yards Avg
Ball State 19 14 0.7

Things were slightly better against Fresno State:

Team Rushes Yards Avg
Fresno State 46 297 6.5

I dunno, you tell me. The rest of the evidence suggests that Toledo should be easily handled by the Michigan front seven: they were totally mediocre against FIU and got squashed by Arizona. There is no Juice Williams on Toledo's team, there's no Daniel Dufrene, and there aren't any beefy Samoans. I expect something like 3 YPC, not including sacks, with one or two instances where shoddy linebacker play gashes Michigan for 20 or so.

Key Matchup: Obi Ezeh versus fullbacks and pulling guys and reads and the like.

Pass Defense vs. Toledo

Okay, so we give up on the safeties. They're a liability. But where is Boubacar Cissoko? Where is Troy Woolfolk? Why does Michigan bring in two extra safeties in their dime package? I'm extremely concerned for their futures if they can't see the field over Charles Stewart.

In any case: Toledo runs a quick-strike passing game reminiscent of Purdue's. Historically this has not been an offense that finds much success against Michigan, and this year it's been super-dinky. Quarterback Aaron Opelt is completing nearly 60% of his passes and has a nice 7-3 TD-INT ratio but is 86th in passer efficiency because he's averaging just 5.2 YPA. Toledo averages just 8.9 yards per completion, too, and a YPC under ten is a sign of a heavily dink-and-dunk sort of attack. Toledo's also 12th in sacks allowed despite passing more than half the time.

I guess this is good, as it indicates a team not particularly inclined to launch bombs to wide open receivers. Perhaps they're just incapable of getting someone open deep or holding their blocks long enough to do so; I'd be surprised if they didn't at least try it.

Key Matchup: Michigan DBs tackling the Toledo WRs. In an offense like this if you just tackle the bastards as soon as they get the ball the other team eventually turfs one or throws one short of the sticks on third down.

Special Teams

Zoltan now has Michigan #1 in net punting. All hail Zoltan.




garfield minus garfield 

Cheap Thrills

Worry if...

  • Threet's accuracy doesn't improve.
  • We're not blocking Toledo like we did Notre Dame. There has to be some bottom to the inability of the line.
  • They get protection to go deep.

Cackle with knowing glee if...

  • They can't tackle, which they probably can't.
  • There's some semblance of coherency on the OL.
  • The DL spends the day in the backfield.

Fear/Paranoia Level: 3 out of 10. (Baseline 5; –1 for You're A 1-4 Team That's Played EMU and FIU, –1 for And Got Shut Out By Ball State, +1 for Could We Get Shut Out By Ball State?, –1 for Probably Not, +1 for But Maybe, –1 for No, Seriously, I Doubt It).

Desperate need to win level: 10 out of 10. (Baseline 5; +1 for This Is A MAC Team, +1 for And Maybe 6-6 Will Get Us To "The Promised Land", –1 for "Promised Land" = Detroit, +1 for Losing This Would Mean Bad Things For Next Year, +1 for and Probably The Year After, +1 for We Must Defeat This State, +1 for This Is A 1-4 Team That's Played EMU and FIU)

Loss will cause me to... zombie apocalypse.

Win will cause me to... sigh with relief.

The strictures and conventions of sportswriting compel me to predict:

I'm not going to go so far in the tank as to say Michigan loses to what appears to be a truly horrible team, but I don't expect this one to be over in the first half, either. It'll be the usual grinding struggle with one good play followed by one bad play; Michigan should win comfortably but will be frustrating at times.

Finally, three opportunities for me to look stupid Sunday:

  • Non-McGuffie carries = 8, one of which is fumbled.
  • We finally start seeing Woolfolk and Cissoko.
  • Michigan, 27-10.



October 10th, 2008 at 1:44 PM ^

Can we have just one big blowout this year?  At least one game that's a complete laugher?  Even in RichRod's first three win season at West Virginia, they beat Rutgers 80-7. 

MMB 82

October 10th, 2008 at 2:12 PM ^

Brian, Tempe on New Year's Eve is so much nicer than Detroit. Think Insight Bowl. I'll even give you a ride to the game, we can buy tickets on the way in....

Anonymous Coward (not verified)

October 10th, 2008 at 2:15 PM ^

I took a quick look at stats last night ... Zoltan = 1551 yards generated.  Michigan's running game = 614 yards generated.  Michigan's passing game = 845 yards generated.  Therefore, Zoltan > Run + Pass.  It's nice to be able to have confidence in your punter, but at the same time, it's kinda sad to realize that your punter is your best (and most consistent) player.


On a related note, can we teach Zoltan to become a running back?  I remember seeing Tyrone Wheatley lined up as a punter a few years back, would it work the opposite way?


October 10th, 2008 at 3:42 PM ^

I live in Seattle and this is my first time in 10 years not going to a game.  Is it bad that I am kinda rooting for the Motor City bowl because I will be in Michigan that day?  I feel so conflicted

Evil Empire

October 10th, 2008 at 3:45 PM ^

I have nothing to add on this per se, but I did notice when looking at the NCAA stats page that Southern Mississippi has a punter named Britt Barefoot.  I wonder what kind of kicking shoe he uses?


October 10th, 2008 at 3:56 PM ^ are soft. Predicting a score right on the vegas line!?!?!

C'mon, man, at least pick them to cover or not!

Just kidding, fun preview to read, as always.......and as a Toledo native, I will say that I am looking forward to going to my first ever Rocket road game tomorrow!



October 10th, 2008 at 3:57 PM ^

What in the name of Monte Robbins is going on with that!!!

Hey, if that keeps up, I cant help but think it will enable us to steal a win or two down the stretch by playing the field position game......might be a great strategy come Lillte Brown Jug Game.


October 10th, 2008 at 8:25 PM ^

I'm listening to Dennis Fithian on 97.1 and he said that from what a couple of his sources told him, the team was coughing the ball up like crazy this week. Lots of fumbles, mishandled snaps and handoffs. He said to expect more of the same in the way of turnovers tomorrow if it goes the way practice has gone this week.

Durham Blue

October 11th, 2008 at 12:31 AM ^

with the fumbles this year?  Is this a systemic issue with the implementation of the spread?  Is coach Rod not providing the correct fundamentals?  WTF?!  It seems like this kind of shit should've been eliminated by now.  I don't seem to recall RR's WVU teams fumbling the ball NEARLY this much.  In fact, I believe WVU did pretty well with turnover margin w/r to div. IA.  I'm freakin' frustrated with it!  I just have the feeling that this team is gonna click one of these games and just go off on their poor opponent like 50-10 with no turnovers.  Anyway, Go Blue!

Durham Blue

October 11th, 2008 at 12:58 AM ^

Michigan fans posting at and  The trolls have somewhat taken over those boards.  We need to jaw-jack "scooter123" and "realist33".  That dude is out of his mind.

Anonymous Coward (not verified)

October 11th, 2008 at 8:59 PM ^


Laughing OUT LOUD.  You suck.  God it's great to be a Spartan... or a Rocket.  Gotta love Dick Rod - great choice as coach.

Anonymous Coward (not verified)

October 11th, 2008 at 9:49 PM ^

I'm so glad we have left the old, boring Coach Carr era. I hated all that winning.


Good Lord!!!! Fumbles! Poor execution! Poor defense!




When do we call it a busted expiriment and decide to go back to Bo Ball?