The University of Toledo football team navigated a challenging nonconference schedule and emerged 3-1 with all its goals still in front of them.
At times there was adversity, including a win at Nevada, overcoming a 21-point deficit against Tulsa, and allowing 42 second-half points to Miami.
“There are just a lot of things that I think our kids have handled really well,” UT coach Jason Candle said. “I think through those tough times, there is growth and unity and guys coming together. I think that is really encouraging and really positive. I don’t know that at the beginning of the year, any of us knew how our locker room was going to shape up in the first two, three, four weeks of the season. But I think it speaks a lot to our culture and speaks a lot to our senior leadership. And to some of these coaches in these offices, they’ve done a really good job of putting our guys into positions where they can be successful. We’re going to need everyone on board and are going to need the Rockets at full strength as we move into conference play.”
With an off-week before diving into the Mid-American Conference schedule, UT will take the time really examine what needs to be fixed and what adjustments need to be made.
“Now is the time to really do some self-evaluation and looking into what we have been able to accomplish the last four weeks or maybe have not been able to accomplish,” Candle said. “It’s a time to get some things that we feel are glaring issues fixed and really try to hone in on fixing Toledo before we turn our focus to our next opponent, which is Eastern Michigan and really our conference schedule here. We have a long road ahead, and I think a lot of things that we have put on video tape up to this point in time have been positive. But there are some glaring things that we really need to wipe off. This is a good week to get healthy and a good week to fix Toledo before we move on.”
Toledo will look to rebound from a 52-30 setback at Miami, Fla., and after the off-week, the MAC schedule starts with a home matchup against the Eagles. The goal coming into the season for the Rockets was to win their first conference championship since 2004. A loss to Miami has no bearing on that goal.
“I think you can look at it two ways,” UT quarterback Logan Woodside said of the Miami game. “It’s a missed opportunity and we can not correct it, or we can learn from it and grow from it, which I know this team will do and get better and on to Eastern Michigan. We did have some missed opportunities, but that is a really good football team that we played and we are going to get it corrected and continue to get better.”
Candle said with everything that has happened during the nonconference, he never has had to coach the effort and attitude of the team.
“I’m not disappointed in our effort,” Candle said after the Miami loss. “I’m not disappointed in the attitude of our football team and how we try to finish games and that. The discipline, the detail, the little things and just being crisp, that sometimes that gets frustrating. But there is no quit in this football team.”
The Rockets will quickly put the Miami loss behind them and focus on what should be a tough conference race.
“The rest of the Mid-American Conference, the MAC West, Eastern Michigan, nobody is going to feel sorry for Toledo,” Candle said.
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