1: Who is the starter with Phillip Ely out for the year with a torn ACL?
The news of Ely's injury is a big setback for a team that was starting to gel under his direction. The QB job for Friday's game will probably go to sophomore Logan Woodside. Woodside covered QB duty last season when Owens went down with injury. According to Coach Campbell, the decision will be between Woodside and redshirt freshman Michael Julian, but we expect Woodside to get the nod.
2) The Rockets are down two starters in the secondary and looked outmatched against Missouri, what can they do to shore that area of the game up?
The secondary has been a problem plaguing Toledo for the last few seasons. While they've had moments where the pieces fell into place and we've been cautiously optimistic that improvements were being made, looking at the big picture over the last few seasons, very little has changed. It's difficult to discern if this is a coaching issue or a personnel issue or some combination of both, but we've blamed all of the above at one point or another. The coaching staff made a commitment to strengthen the defense last season, in both emphasis and recruiting, and we're hoping that we can see some of that on the field this season.
3) Would UT be better served to forget about balance and simply pound the ball behind their good offensive line with Kareem Hunt?
Toledo has always used a balanced offense in their game plan. Since 2000, UT has been fortunate to have some exceptional athletes which have allowed the running game or passing game to temporarily surge and be successful, but when one aspect of the offense was really clicking, Toledo seldom varied from a balanced attack. While Hunt has shown that he is capable of gaining yards, we don't expect Toledo to abandon the passing game. Ely was ready to direct the passing game and Woodside will need some time to become comfortable with that role, but the balance of our season requires the receivers to become a bigger part of our game as well. We may see that the running game, anchored by Hunt, is the primary weapon but guys like Alonzo Russell, Kishon Wilcher, Justin Olack, Dwight Macon, Alex Zmolik and Zach Rogers will have to get more catches to allow the run game to stay successful.
4) What is the feel in town about Matt Campbell?
Toledo has embraced Matt Campbell since he stepped in after Tim Beckman's departure. He has provided a clear vision for the team and many are confident in his ability to lead the team in a positive direction on and off the field. Under Campbell's watch, the program has put together some solid recruiting classes and maintains the can-do attitude of "any team, anywhere". He's led the Rockets to the top of the MAC West and has helped solidify the teams at the top of the MAC, year in and year out. The expectation is that Campbell will lead the team to several clear goals: division titles, conference titles, and positive post-season matchups.
5) Prediction time -- Who wins and why?
This is a tough one to call for several reasons. First, we've yet to see Cincinnati on the field this season and that leaves some questions about which issues from last year will be corrected and which may still exist -- at the same time, there is no reason to believe that Cincinnati will be a drastically different team this season, which means the Rockets need to prepare to see a solid squad on Friday night. Second, Toledo just lost their starting QB to an ACL injury and will take the field on Friday night with a capable but, undeniably, a backup QB in Logan Woodside. His ability to direct the passing game and distribute the ball to his playmakers will really define how the game will go for Toledo. We feel the UC passing game / UT secondary mis-match will likely be Cincinnati's biggest advantage in this game and may be the downfall for the Rockets unless the defense really shows up big. Cincinnati appears to have the upper hand in this battle but we're hoping Toledo shows up and gives the Bearcats all they can handle.