The Syracuse Orange take on the Toledo Rockets Saturday at Noon. Before they do, we need to make sure we're up to speed on who these Rockets are and why we must dislike them. The folks over at Let's Go Rockets were kind enough to answer some questions and said answers are below (I did the same and my answers go live tomorrow).
Which Toledo is going to show up Saturday? The one that almost beat Ohio State or the one that got beat by Boise?
Toledo will be prepared to face Syracuse on Saturday but after the past two rough games, it’s tough to predict the confidence level of the team at kickoff for Saturday. You mentioned the parity of the two teams that we’ve seen the last two games but in a lot of ways, these teams are one in the same. The Boise State team that we faced in the Glass Bowl last week is superior to the OSU team that we faced the previous week (if you’ve seen the body of work of either team, you’d have a hard time denying that)... and while our offense ultimately pulled up short against OSU right at the end, the disparity in performance between the two versions of the Toledo team that we’ve seen was caused more by Boise State’s efficiency than it was by Toledo’s inefficiency.
We know all about Eric Page but who are some of the other Rockets we need to worry about?
There are a host of other players who are emerging to take the pressure off Page this year. At WR, Bernard Reedy has made a strong showing this season as a speedy receiver capable of getting out in space and making the catch. RB Adonis Thomas has anchored the run game this year and is plenty capable of catching passes as well (currently third on the team with 13 receptions for 168 yards).
You guys are in the Year 3 of the Tim Beckman Era. How's it going?
The turn-around that Coach Beckman has lead at Toledo has been dramatic and effective right from the start. As soon as Beckman took the wheel, he installed a competitive system where all spots are available to the most driven, most deserving individuals allowing and requiring everyone to compete for their spot on the field. The team is constantly divided into smaller units for competitions in speed and strength and the players seem to respond well to this additional motivation. Beckman also demonstrated that infraction for team rules and policies will not be tolerated and in several instances has dismissed players from the program that could not meet the expectations that were made for them. In a time when many programs and coaches operate in the grey area of the rules and sidestep issues that arise, Coach Beckman is proactive and swift in assessing penalties. Our record and performance in the last few seasons has improved dramatically and with back-to-back MAC best recruiting classes, we don’t expect the progress to slow.
If Toledo is going to win this game, what do they need to do?
Toledo needs to attack the Syracuse secondary. We know going into the matchup that they’ve had some issues with stopping the pass and that’s one of our strongest facets of our game. Whichever QB has the hot hand at the time needs to spread the ball around and not just target Page and Reedy. Once the passing game is established, that will open opportunities for Thomas and Fluellen at RB. If the offense gets rolling, our defence can keep us competitive.
Prediction? Expectations? Outlook for the entire season?
We predict that this game will be closer than most Toledo or Syracuse fans think. Both teams are strong in their own ways and we should see some good football this weekend. We’re happy with this as our final non-conference game leading into our MAC schedule. From what we’ve seen the first three games of the season (and this weekend will hopefully follow suit) we’re cautiously optimistic about the rest of the season and our chances of playing for a MAC championship in December. Toledo is re-establishing it’s place at the top of the MAC and has to win in Detroit to complete that. Qualifying for another bowl game and winning that game would solidify this season as another major step forward for the program.
Keep an eye on Let's Go Rockets for more pre-game updates and news.