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Preview: Toledo Rockets

When I previewed Toledo in the summer, it appeared as though they may be one of the very few easy games for Michigan in 2008. The Rockets have gone 1-4 so far, with the lone victory coming against the moribund Eagles of Eastern Michigan. We spoke to Jason Mack of the Independent Collegian to give us the latest on the Rockets, and it doesn't really look like Toledo should be too great a challenge for Michigan. However, if Michigan has shown one thing this year, it's that there are no sure things for the 2008 Wolverines.

Offense
The Rockets are 66th in the nation in scoring offense, despite putting up 41 on Eastern Michigan in 54 on Fresno State (in 2 overtimes). They were blanked against Ball State (a fringe top-25 team, but one known for its offense, not stellar D), and put up 16 points in games against Arizona and a 3-score loss(!) to Florida International(!!). Aaron Opelt is the Rockets' starter, passing for 869 yards so far on 166 attempts (5.23 ypa). Most of his passes have gone to junior Stephen Williams and senior Nick Moore. On the ground, DaJuane Collins and Morgan Williams have gotten the lion's share of carries. Collins appears to be infinitely better than Williams, averaging 7.42 ypc on far fewer carries than those on which Williams is netting 4.11 ypc. Collins missed the FIU game and was limited against Ball State.

In short, the Rockets aren't exceptional on offense. They run a pass-oriented scheme with lots of spread formations. Regardless, they haven't spread the ball around much, and haven't put up tons of points on anyone. Michigan will be by far the best defense they have faced this year. However, they run a lot of quick passes which may neutralize the Wolverines' advantage in the trenches.

Defense
Toledo is 89th in rush defense and 109th in pass efficiency defense. This is bad. Considering the competition they've played, which includes such offensive juggernauts as Eastern Michigan (to whom they gave up about 130 yards passing and rushing, which is below their season average), and Florida International (to whom they gave up 98 yards passing (40 yards below FIU's season average) and 141 yards rushing (55 yards more than FIU's season average) - and still managed to give up 35 points). So, the defense isn't great. Or good. Or passable.

Michigan's run game should have another opportunity to get itself moving. We'll see if that actually happens. If it doesn't, predict pain for the rest of the year.

Predictions
Michigan gains more fumbles than it gives away(!).
The Wolverines have 3 rushers go over 50 yards.
Michigan wins, 34-9.

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“Preview: Toledo Rockets”