Zach Harig of Rocket Digest answers questions about Toledo.
1) Are there any major scheme changes with the new coordinators? Brian George joins the Rockets for the first season as their defensive coordinator as he comes from Kent State. With the Golden Flashes, George led the charge on a defense that ranked third in the MAC in total defense (350 yards per game). As for scheme changes, he knows his personnel. Right now I see the Rockets running a base 4-2-5 defense with several substitutions on the defensive line and secondary. Toledo runs about six to seven deep in the secondary and can run as deep as seven to eight deep on the defensive line. Offensively, the Rockets will run a fast, up-tempo offense that everyone is accustomed to seeing. Nothing with change with the hiring of former Florida Atlantic offensive coordinator, Brian Wright who will co-operate the offense with Jason Candle. Run the ball to set up the pass, will be the mentality.
2) What's the biggest question about the Rockets this fall? The biggest question mark going into this fall would likely be the receiving core. After losing Alonzo Russell to graduation and the NFL, the Rockets are leaning heavily on senior slot receiver, Corey Jones as well as Cody Thompson who is more of a possession guy. Diontae Johnson, a sophomore out of Florida was really impressive this fall and was beginning to raise eyebrows when he ended up with a lower leg injury and is now in a walking boot for a few weeks, so that'll be a big loss going into this one at Arkansas State. It'll be interesting to see how Logan Woodside spreads the ball around. Also watch out for tight end, Michael Roberts who is a big red zone target.
3) What will be the biggest strength for the Rockets this fall? The biggest strength will be the run for the Rockets. Kareem Hunt has led the charge for the past three seasons but Terry Swanson behind Hunt doesn't get the recognition he deserves. Hunt and Swanson are one of the best duos in the entire country and they're difficult to stop. Behind them, Damion Jones-Moore and Art Thompkins will see some carries more than likely as well. A-State will remember Hunt after the 271 yard and five touchdown performance against a banged up defense in 2014. The Red Wolves will need to stop the run in this one.
4) What are the major areas of concern for Toledo? The biggest area of concern this fall would have to be the defensive secondary. The Rockets lost cornerback Cheatham Norrils and safety Chaz Whittaker to graduation and will now look for the next men up to fill those voids. Look for Jordan Martin, Josh Teachey and possibly Aaron Covington, a redshirt-freshman to play frequently at cornerback, but the Rockets could struggle to defend the pass. DeJuan Rogers, a senior safety out of Detroit will certainly anchor the defensive backfield, however.
5) Player to watch out for (one offensively, one defensively)? Offensively - you have to start with Kareem Hunt, obviously. However, keep an eye on Storm Norton at left tackle, Norton is regarded as one of the best left tackles in the nation and at six-eight, 305-pounds, you can't miss him. The Rockets allowed just five sacks in 411 pass attempts last season so they'll have some expectations to live up to.
Defensively - DeJuan Rogers is mourning the recent loss of his mother due to illness. Now, he has a chip on his shoulder and is on some national preseason watch lists going into this fall. Rogers has played ever since his freshman season at UT and will look to really go out with a bang in 2016, he had a huge interception last season at Arkansas that really helped the Rockets pull off that victory.
6) What will the game come down to in your mind? Personally, I'll be keeping an eye on special teams and mistakes. Last season, A-State's lone score came on a huge kickoff return by J.D. McKissic. This season, true-sophomore kicker Jameson Vest will look to get off to the same start he did as a freshman in 2015 where he was nearly automatic. A late-season lull kind of left questions at the end of the year, but Vest should be ready for this fall. The Rockets will also be without explosive kick returner and wide receiver, Diontae Johnson due to injury, so that's something to watch as well.
Jason Candle has preached the past week or so that he is expecting a clean game with minimal mistakes and turnovers. The Rockets are really coached to take care of the ball and are one of the least penalized teams in college football, year after year. It'll be interesting to watch.