NCAA Football

College Football Preview: How Far Can Austin Dantin Take Toledo?

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2010 Record: (8-5, 7-1 in MAC)

Head Coach: Tim Beckman (13-12 overall, 10-6 in the MAC)

Last Bowl Game: 2010 Little Caesars Bowl: lost to FIU 34-32

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2010 Preview

2010 Season Exit Survey

Schedule

9/1: New Hampshire

9/10: at Ohio State (2009 result: lost 38-0)

9/17: Boise State (2010 result: lost 57-14)

9/24: at Syracuse

10/1: at Temple (2009 result: lost 40-24)

10/8: Eastern Michigan (2010 result: won 42-7)

10/15: at Bowling Green (2010 result: won 33-14)

10/22: Miami (OH) (2009 result: lost 31-24)

11/1: Northern Illinois (2010 result: lost 65-30)

11/8: Western Michigan  (2010 result: won 37-24)

11/18: at Central Michigan (2010 result: won 42-31)

11/25: at Ball State (2010 result: won 31-24)

2010 Offensive Statistics:

Scoring: 27.9 ppg (3rd in MAC, 54th in Nation)

Rushing Yds/Game: 167.38 yds/game (3rd in MAC, 43rd in Nation)

Passing Yds/Game: 198.0 yds/game (6th in MAC, 77th in Nation)

Total Yds/Game: 365.4 yds/game (4th in MAC, 74th in Nation)

2010 Defensive Statistics:

Scoring: 28.5 ppg (9th in MAC, 73rd in Nation)

Rushing Yds/Game: 133.46 yds/game (5th in MAC, 36th in Nation)

Passing Yds/Game: 231.3 yds/game (12th in MAC, 86th in Nation)

Total Yds/Game: 364.8 yds/game (7th in MAC, 56th in Nation)

2010 Misc Stats:

Turnover Margin: +0.85 per game (first in MAC, 14th in Nation)

Penalties: 64.2 yds/game (last in MAC, 107th in Nation)

Returning Starters:

Offense: 9

Defense: 8

Kicker/Punter: 2

Top Returning Statistical Leaders:

Passing: Austin Dantin, Jr (127 of 192 for 1254 yds, 7 TD, 8 INT)

Passing: Terrance Owens, Soph (97 of 163 for 1244 yds, 13 TD, 5 INT)

Rushing: Adonis Thomas, Sr (175 for 1098, 6.2 ypc, 8 TD)

Receiving: WR Eric Page, Jr (99 rec for 1105 yds, 8 TD)

Tackles: LB Dan Molls, Jr (143)

Sacks: DL Malcolm Riley, Sr (5.5)

Interceptions: LB Dan Molls, Jr (3)

After four consecutive losing seasons the Toledo Rockets burst back onto the MAC scene in 2010 by going 8-5 overall and 7-1 in the MAC. The turn-around in the MAC was especially impressive when you consider that Toledo went just 3-5 in 2009 in the conference. From 2009 to 2010 the Rockets improved their scoring defense by 9 points and gave up around 40 less yards per game. Maybe more important was their dramatic turnaround in the turnover game.

In 2009, Toledo gave up the ball 10 more times then they took it away. In 2010, Toledo took the ball away 11 more times then they gave it up. That's a 21 turnover swing. That's huge and it aided Toledo big time last year. This year Toledo tries to take the next step and the obvious stepping-stone standing in their way is Northern Illinois, a team who won MAC West by going undefeated and beat Toledo by a whopping 35 points. The Toledo Blog Let's Go Rockets answered some questions for us about Toledo and their outlook for 2011. Make sure you follow them on Twitter @LetsGoRockets.

Toledo has two of our Pre-Spring Top 10 teams on their schedule (Boise State and Ohio State). Which games do you see as the most important on the schedule for the Rockets this year?

Any chance that Toledo has to play a big name team is good for the program. Exposing our players to teams of that caliber is a good learning experience and a good recruiting tool for the program especially when we can compete with those teams and represent the MAC on the national stage. Boise State and Ohio State will be important non-conference games for the Rockets this season for a myriad of reasons. While having Boise come to the Glass Bowl this year and exposing our fan-base/program to that class of team is important, the Ohio State game really has more substance and importance for our program. Not only is this an in-state battle but considering OSU's substantial off field problems this off-season and the uncertainty surrounding their coaching, this is the perfect chance for Toledo to strike a rare win against this foe from the Big Ten. Toledo's coaching staff and players have numerous ties to the OSU program and with over-lapping fan bases between the two teams, Toledo has the unique opportunity to catch OSU off-guard and take care of business. If OSU enters the game feeling (just as most OSU fans do) that this game is pretty inconsequential and feel no real threat from Toledo, they'll find a vastly different viewpoint from our players on the field. Toledo has a chance to capitalize on a unique situation and with a few favorable bounces and a little luck on our side, we can topple the Buckeye juggernaut. 

Which players stood out this spring for the Rockets?

The Quarterbacks have been battling all spring.  Austin Dantin and Terrance Owens were both listed as #1 on the depth chart this spring.  Dantin started the first part of the season last year but due to injuries was held out the last 5 games.  Owens stepped up and the team never really looked back.  David Pasquale will continue to see playing time in the wildcat formation.  Redshirt FR Dwight Macon has the capability of being a good QB as well. Depth-wise, the Rockets are probably as good as they've been in several years at the QB position.  RB Adonis Thomas didn't miss a beat in the offseason and had a really nice spring game.  

One area that was a concern last year was pass defense (Toledo finished next to last in the MAC giving up 231 yards per game). Who needs to step up on defense to help that area improve this year?

It starts with pass rushing and the Rockets have developed more depth in just one year.  Losing Alex Johnson and Doug Westbrook will be tough, but there is plenty of talent to step in and put pressure on opposing QBs. Desmond Marrow was granted a 6th year of eligibility (due to countless injuries) and he is coming off a full season last year.  We expect to see bigger and better things from him this year.  Senior CB Taikwon Paige should also have a good year.  Jermaine Robinson tore his achilles tendon in the bowl game and has went through off season surgery. Diauntae Morrow was able to step in for Robinson after transferring from Iowa.  

For those that don't follow the MAC that closely...tell us a little about the best players on this team.

Toledo is fortunate to have many talented athletes as part of the program. While each contributes in their own way to the success of our program, currently the best player for the Rockets is Eric Page, hands down.  Page was named the College Football Performance Award kickoff returner of the year, first team kick returner on the 2010 Sporting News All-American team, 2010 first team kick returner on Phil Steele's postseason all-american team, 2010 SportsIllustrated.com's 2nd team, 2010 Walter Camp first team All-America, ESPN.com non-AQ all conference team, Phil Steele's 2010 all-MAC team, MAC special teams player of the year, first team MAC selection as wide receiver and kick returner, and is on pace to shatter the school record for career receptions.

What are the biggest reasons to be optimistic about Toledo football this year?

Coach Beckman has been building this program steadily since he arrived in Toledo - through strong recruiting, competition between players, high on-field and off-field standards for behavior and conduct, and a strong group of coaches and training staff with a positive attitude and the credentials to get the job done. Our record has improved in the past few seasons with Beckman at the helm and, in back to back seasons, he's brought the best recruiting class in the MAC to UT. As more of these solid student-athletes fill the starter rolls, the program gains momentum and the success is being enjoyed, both on the field and in the classroom. Combine talented transfer/JUCO athletes, the best recruiting class in the MAC (and arguably the best class Beckman has brought to Toledo) and a vast majority of returning starters (off. and def.) from last year's 8-5 team who went bowling, and you have a lot of reasons to feel good about our chances at having more success this year than last. 

What is your gut feeling on the final record for the 2011 season and what makes the season successful in your eyes?

Last year, we predicted the Rocket would go 8-4, and the Rockets did just that. This year, we think the Rockets have all the pieces in place to finish 9-3 but wouldn't be surprised if they finished 10-2.  Approaching the non-conference schedule cautiously, we can see two, maybe three, loses in that area. Sweeping the MAC schedule isn't out of the question with the level of talent and experience that this team has. To be successful, the Rockets need to bag 9 wins and get back to the MAC Championship game. Qualifying for a bowl game again this year, would be icing on the cake. 

Next Preview: Southern Mississippi

2011 Team Previews

C-USA- Houston

MAC- Bowling Green, Buffalo , Central Michigan, Eastern Michigan, Temple

MWC- UNLV, Wyoming

Sun Belt- FAU, Middle Tennessee, North Texas, Troy

WAC- Idaho