UT/Purdue less Than 24 Hours Away

It's the eve of the season opener here in Rocket land. Tim Beckman takes over the reigns as head coach of a Rocket program that has struggled through three straight losing seasons despite having some quality talent. Wins over Kansas (2006), Iowa State (2007), and Michigan (2008) are proof that there is talent in this program.

It's the eve of the season opener here in Rocket land. Tim Beckman takes over the reigns as head coach of a Rocket program that has struggled through three straight losing seasons despite having some quality talent. Hidden in the losses have been some promising wins like the 13-10 victory at Michigan last season, a 52-14 dominating victory over Miami University last season, a 36-35 victory over Iowa State in 2007, a 70-21 beatdown of Northern Illinois in 2007, and a 37-31 overtime victory over Kansas in 2006. You do not win those games without talent.

Toledo has actually played pretty well against BCS programs in the last three years, despite the tough seasons. The Rockets are 3-5 (.375 winning percentage) against BCS schools in that timespan. Toledo is just 10-18 (.357 winning percentage) against non-BCS opponents in that same timespan.

So with the game now less than 24 hours away, what can we expect to see when the Rockets and Boilermakers take the field?

Some are looking at the suspension of UT running back Morgan Williams, the Rockets leading rusher last season, as a big blow to Toledo's chances. I'm going to tell you why it is not though. Senior running back DaJuane Collins would have likely led the team in rushing if he did not get hurt last season. He tore up the Fresno State defense for well over 100 yards before getting injured in the 3rd quarter. That injury bothered him the rest of the season, but he still averaged 5.5 yards per rush as he netted 700 yards and 5 TD's on just 127 rushing attempts. DaJuane is 100% healthy entering the PUrdue game, and that should scare the Boilermakers defense.

Reason #2 is sophomore running back Jake Walker. Walker averaged 4.2 yards per rush as a true freshman last season before missing time with an injury. He is 100% healthy now and to say he is a load to tackle is an understatement. He keeps his feet moving and manages to break arm tackles because of his power and his feet movement. Collins and Walker give UT a solid 1-2 punch for this game.

Something else you can expect to see tomorrow afternoon is a Rocket offense that is suited for Aaron Opelt. Since he came to Toledo the offensive style went more and more away from his strengths and into a pocker passing style of offense that put him behind center most of the time. Quarterbacks coach and passing game coordinator Scott Satterfield has implemented a spread offensive attack that will utilize Opelt's stengths.

This is key for the Rocket offense. Opelt has some very good speed and he will get the opportunity to show it with some QB draws and option reads. He will also be in the shotgun, a position he is much more comfortable in.

Looking at the defense, there needs to be a lot of improvement from the last couple of years. Some players have admitted to loafing or giving up on plays, particularly in the 4th quarter, last season. That is not going to happen with Tim Beckman at the helm. That alone will improve the defense. Having guys like Barry Church, Archie Donald, Mark Singer, and Jermaine Robinson out there won't hurt either. All four of these guys like to hit and swarm to the ball.

There is one more reason that Purdue can expect a much improved Toledo team tomorrow afternoon. The leadership of 20 seniors. Last year Toledo had just 8 seniors on the team when senior night rolled around. Now with 20 seniors, which are leaders and direct extensions of the coaching staff, this team will have more composure than the past couple of Rocket teams had.

And talking about coaching staff, it is nice to have running game and passing game coordinators that have experience with calling plays. One of the biggest issues on offense last season was the predictability of the play calling. That should not happen this year.



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