Toledo: Motor City Bowl Foe

Here is Scout.com's post-regular season report on UConn's Motor City Bowl opponent -- the Toledo Rockets of the Mid-America Conference.

INSIDE SLANT

At a time when the Rockets should be dining exclusively in game film of Connecticut, their opponent in the Motor City Bowl, they are concerned with film of another variety -- X-ray film.

What the team physicians find on those X-rays will have a lot to do with how effective the Toledo offense might be against the Huskies.

First, the really bad news.

It is doubtful that sophomore running back Scooter McDougle will play in the Motor City Bowl. McDougle left Ford Field on crutches after playing a big role in a 35-27 win over Miami in the MAC Championship Game. He injured his left knee, spraining a ligament, and the team physicians and training staff have decided to allow a few days for the swelling to go down before the possible need for surgery will be determined. They are treating the injury with ice and having McDougle rest and keep weight off the knee.

The still-bleak-but-less-pessimistic news is that UT quarterback Bruce Gradkowski, who broke a bone in his hand and dislocated his left shoulder in the first half against Miami, had surgery on his injured throwing hand the following day. He is listed as probable for the bowl game.

Doctors inserted a metal pin in Gradkowski's hand, and he is expected to be back at practice after 10 days or so.

Gradkowski, who completed 18 of 24 passes for 251 yards and four touchdowns in the league title game, left the field shortly before halftime to have his hand X-rayed, then had the injury taped. He returned to start the second half, leading UT to four second-half touchdowns in the come-from-behind win.

"That's the toughest dude I know," UT senior wide receiver Lance Moore said about Gradkowski, his roommate. "If there is any way possible, he will be back at practice earlier than people think, and he will be on the field for the bowl game. I have no doubt in my mind about that."

NOTES, QUOTES

BY THE NUMBERS
3.541 -- That is the GPA of Toledo senior wide receiver Lance Moore, who was named a first-team Academic All-American. The slender speedster has the smarts, the hands, and the feet to be a star on the football field and in the classroom. Moore is a two-time first-team All-MAC honoree and owns every receiving record worth mention at Toledo.

GAME OF THE YEAR
Toledo 31, Northern Illinois 17 -- In the showdown of the season, the Rockets got a must-win on the road and essentially stole the West berth to the title game from the Huskies. The win turned Toledo's season-ending game with rival Bowling Green into a division title game.

MATCHUP TO WATCH
UConn secondary vs. WR Lance Moore -- The Huskies will have to contain Moore, who is always at his best in the big games. He caught three touchdown passes in the league title game victory, and had a school-record 15 catches in an upset over Pittsburgh last season.

QUOTE TO NOTE
"I don't think I've ever been more proud of a team and the way these guys fought back. We have been down in games, and we were down after that 0-2 start, but these players never quit." -- Toledo head coach Tom Amstutz on his MAC champions

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

BOWL AT A GLANCE
Toledo vs. Connecticut, Motor City Bowl, Detroit, Dec. 27.

PLAYERS TO WATCH
LB Keon Jackson -- The junior all-MAC performer's 31-yard interception return for a touchdown in the MAC title game is the first-ever interception returned for a score in championship game history. It was Jackson's second pick returned for a score in his career.

LB Anthony Jordan -- A rare junior serving as captain, Jordan broke through against Miami and recorder the Rockets' first block on an extra point attempt of the season.

PRO POTENTIAL
OT Nick Kaczur -- The husky Canadian is coveted by the pro scouts for his size and athleticism, but most comment that outside the obvious talents, Kaczur has the mean streak they like to see in their linemen. His childhood dream of playing in the CFL might be sidelined by a fat NFL contract offer.

WR Lance Moore -- The pros are a bit concerned about his size (5-11, 180), but Moore's speed, quickness, and ability to make people miss make him an enticing prospect as a return man.

ROSTER REPORT
It is highly doubtful that sophomore RB Scooter McDougle will be able to play in the Motor City Bowl on Dec. 27 against Connecticut. Late in the league title game, McDougle was grinding out the tough yardage, and at the end of a 28-yard gain he was pushed out of bounds, twisting awkwardly as he landed on his back. He was put on a stretcher and taken from the field with what has been diagnosed as a sprained left knee. Surgery might be necessary after the swelling recedes. McDougle will be replaced by junior Trinity Dawson, who was the starter earlier in the season.

QB Bruce Gradkowski broke a bone in his hand and dislocated his left shoulder in the first half against Miami, and had surgery on his injured throwing hand the day after the title game. Doctors inserted a metal pin in Gradkowski's hand, and he is expected to be at practice in about 10 days or so, and start the bowl game.


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