Can Toledo Really Challenge Ohio State?

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One team I came away from impressed with last week was Ohio State. Sure, it was just Akron but it was an impressive dismantling. This week Ohio State takes a step up the MAC food chain as they face the Toledo Rockets.

While Akron went 1-11 last year, Toledo went 8-5 and returns more starters and has a lot more offensive fire power. Last week Toledo did a little dismantling of their own as they crushed New Hampshire 58-22 as they rolled up 591 yards in total offense.

And then there is the little side story where David is poking Goliath. Oh, you haven't heard?

Get ready for the Saturday, Sept. 10, game and show your school pride by turning in an Ohio State T-shirt for a new University of Toledo one.

The T-shirt trade-in will take place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday, Sept. 9, outside the Student Union. Any Rocket fan is free to bring an OSU T-shirt (limit one per person) to exchange for a UT shirt that takes a playful jab at the Buckeyes. UT shirts will be available in sizes small through XXL.

“The trade-in outfits our fans with a unique, new Rockets shirt and helps get some OSU gear off campus,” said Keri Gallagher, UT licensing graduate assistant. “Whether they are watching the game from here in Toledo or heading to Columbus, we want every UT fan to be supporting the Rockets on Saturday.”

Now that Toledo has poked the sleeping bear a bit, let's get to our Q&A. We talked with our buddies over at and here's what they had to say about their team and their big game coming up with Ohio State:

Toledo racked up 591 yards last week. Which players surprised you with their offensive performance?

We were pleased to see so many Rockets (young players especially) get a chance to touch the ball and contribute in our first game. 12 different players caught passes in the game and 8 players carried the ball. While not surprised by his performance, the strong showing by Bernard Reedy demonstrates that he will be able to take pressure off All-American Eric Page and give the offense another option in the passing game.

Coming out of week one what are your biggest concerns with the Rockets?

Defense is still a concern for the Rockets especially in the secondary. There were several points where the Toledo defense was soft against the pass and it allowed UNH to drive against us. It’s too early in the season to tell whether this is overly cautious play calling (protecting against the big play) or whether this is a personnel or coaching issue. Either way, until we see continued successful execution by the secondary, it is a point of concern among may fans and followers of the program.

What concerns you the most about the Ohio State game?

Obviously, the off-field distractions that OSU has faced in the last 8 months are to Toledo’s advantage in this game. That being said, there are several points of major concern in this game for Toledo. We’ve noticed that the Buckeyes have a tendency to setup the run and use that to open up their passing game which will call the Toledo secondary into action. As mentioned above, we are wary of the matchups that will present themselves there. If Toledo can contain the passing game, and force OSU to run the ball, it will help Toledo’s chances of being successful.

Where do you see Toledo having specific advantages against Ohio State going into this Saturday?

Since Coach Beckman took the helm at UT, our program has been noticed for it’s ability to create turnovers and capitalize on the mistakes made by other teams. Whether it be INTs or fumbles, Toledo has a knack for creating turnovers and this could be to our advantage against OSU. With an improved high-powered offense, if we can create turnovers to get the ball back into the hands of play makers like Eric Page, Bernard Reedy, Adonis Thomas and David Fluellen it will be to Toledo advantage.

I'm not going to ask you for a prediction but tell me what needs to happen for Toledo to win this game...

For Toledo to be successful in this game, we need to adhere to the play-calling that has made us successful in the past. That’s not to say that we won’t be forced to adapt to the pressure that we get from OSU, but facing a strong defense like OSU’s, we can’t abandon the offensive strategy that we’re comfortable and successful utilizing. Toledo needs to continue to spread the ball around to it’s capable receivers and running backs and allow the weaknesses of the defense to highlight where the next plays should attack.

Toledo’s defense has to step up and limit the big plays by the Buckeyes. With a strong offensive line, we would expect the running game to be utilized heavily against Toledo so we’ll need to be mindful of that regardless of the playcall.

Thanks to the guys at for joining us this week to discuss their team and the upcoming game against Ohio State. You can also follow them on Twitter @LetsGoRockets. You can watch this game at noon on Saturday on the Big Ten Network.