After a 3-9 season, new coach Tim Beckman looks to make improvements in the 2009 season. The Rockets have the talent, skilled athletes and the experience to have a break out season.
Aaron Opelt returns at quarterback for his senior season and brings a lot of experience, having started since his freshman season. His 2,176 passing yards and twelve touchdowns is nothing to write home about, but he is surrounded by other talent.
DaJuane Collins and Morgan Williams will be splitting time in the backfield which seemed to work last year as they combined for 1,710 yards rushing and eleven scores. Williams also finished ninth in the conference in total purpose yards with 949 yards as a freshman.
Opelt will miss Nick Moore at wideout, but Stephen Williams should be able to fill that void. He is big, fast and has the experience to be a big play threat for the Rockets and if with 72 receptions this season, he will become the all-time leading receiver for Toledo.
The defense is who kept the Rockets in games last year and they now return 10 starters. The guys upfront have to start putting pressure on the quarterback and getting into the backfield. They were 118th last year in the nation, averaging a measly .83 sacks per game. Senior, Sean Williams, is coming off a leg injury but hopes he can be the spark in a defensive line that lacked any kind of push last season.
The leader of the defense, Barry Church is now at linebacker and he hopes to start with where he left off from 2008, averaging 7.5 tackles per game. Donald Archie will also provide an important presence in the middle and should put up some solid numbers.
The pass defense was solid last season only giving up 203 yards through the air which ranked for fifth best in the conference. The hope is that the numbers will be even better this year if the men upfront can apply pressure. Lester Richmond and Joe Bates will be the leaders in the secondary and we can expect solid production from them in the 2009 season.
If the offense can stay consistent and if they use their experience to their advantage, they should be able to put up good numbers. Defensively, they need to get pressure in the backfield and the rest of the defense will take care of themselves. With a new coach, a lot of talent and experience Toledo could be the surprise in the MAC.