Coming off four straight losing seasons the Toledo Rockets took a big step forward this year under second year coach Tim Beckman. In 2010 the Rockets 8-4 in the regular season and garnered itself it's first bowl invite since 2005. Toledo finished an impressive 7-1 in the MAC, with the lone loss being to the MAC West Champs Northern Illinois.
Out of conference Toledo ran into a couple of brick walls in the form of Arizona and Boise State but they did collect a good out-of-conference win against Big ten foe Purdue. We caught up with the Toledo Blog Let's Go Rockets to get some of our questions answered about the Rockets 2010 season.
1. Toledo went from 5-7 in 2009 to 8-5 and in a bowl game in 2010. How satisfied are you with the season and what were the major reasons for the turnaround?
Before the season began, we predicted a solid 8-4 season with a possible bowl game for Toledo this year. Realistically, we envisioned losses to Arizona, Purdue, Boise, and a MAC loss along the way. Toledo dropped one to Wyoming after a great win at Purdue but other than those two games, we were close in our prediction. Returning to the post season is a big step in getting Toledo back where it needs to be to contend in the MAC every year. Getting 8 wins makes this a satisfying season for us but the goal of a MAC Championship and bowl victory are still pressing for next season.
Factors contributing to the turnaround at Toledo have been the improved facilities, embedding competition in everything (Beckman is keen on competing), great recruiting by Beckman and staff, and the renewed hardwork and dedication that the staff and players have put in this year. Next year should be even better!
2. What were your favorite moments of the season?
We have several favorite moments this season. Winning against Ohio, early in the season, helped the Rockets and their fans to realize this team could be pretty good, if not better than expected. Defeating Purdue was a big step in showing the team that we could compete with opponents, regardless of conference and gave the MAC a needed reputation bump. The whooping the Rockets laid on the Falcons is a favorite, because, well... BGSUcks.
3. Which players surprised you the most this season?
Although Eric Page earned multiple awards this season, we feel that the biggest surprise was the balance on offense. Eric Page could have received a lot more looks than he did, but the balance in the running game kept defenses guessing. While Morgan Williams appeared to be the back that would carry the load in the ground game this year, Adonis Thomas really stepped up as an effective and capable running threat. While battling injury, David Fluellen also played a key role in the running game.
4. Who are you most looking forward to watching play next year?
We are really looking forward to seeing what Eric Page can do in his Junior season as well as watching Thomas and Fluellen carry the load in the backfield. Fluellen has a chance to be a star. Toledo is fortunate to have a strong group of incoming players - freshmen, JUCOs, and transfers - who should make an impact right away and we’re anxious to see their positive impact on both sides of the ball.
5. What does Toledo need to do in the off-season to keep their momentum going forward and challenge for a MAC Championship?
Toledo absolutely cannot let up on the momentum they’ve built this season. Beckman has built a culture of competition at Toledo that has starters and non-starters alike vying for playing time every week. This keeps everyone pushing to be better and working hard every week and we’ve seen the dramatic results of this effort on the field. Beckman has another talented class of recruits headed to the program and the integration of their talents with an established system of play will be important in allowing the largest possible impact of these talents on the program. The Rockets have to continue to hone their offensives weapons to take pressure off Eric Page and allow for more varied looks on offense. Also, the Rockets have to clean up their special teams play to avoid giving up big plays and help the defense in field position. These are all realistic goals for the off-season that Toledo can use to strengthen the chances of playing for a MAC Championship in 2011.