Sunday, Nov 19, 2017
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Toledo shifts focus to resurgent Akron

Zips flying high after upset of reigning MAC champion Western Michigan

University of Toledo football coach Jason Candle called the Rockets’ 30-10 win Saturday at Central Michigan the most complete performance of the season.

Toledo dominated on offense, defense, and special teams in what was a game in tough weather conditions.

“I thought it was a great team effort,” Candle said. “To go on the road to a tough place to play in my opinion and couple that with a really bad weather day, to go out and play as close to a complete football game as we’ve had all year in all three phases, I was really impressed by our team’s effort.”

Now the Rockets (5-1, 2-0 MAC) will try to build off that performance and turn the page to prepare for a surprising Akron team that is coming off of a big win at Western Michigan and sits atop the Mid-American Conference’s East Division at 3-0.

“It’s a hot football team right now that is playing really well,” Candle said. “They got a big win [Sunday], probably the biggest win in a conference game in the last two years. It’s a stiff challenge for our football team, and we have to be ready to go. They are playing good team football and they are playing hard, and they are seeing the benefits of that. They are relying on their senior leadership, starting with their quarterback [Thomas Woodson] and doing what their coaches are asking them to do.”

Statistically, Akron doesn’t stand out in any one area. They are seventh in the MAC in scoring offense (23.1 points per game) and 11th in total offense (325.7 yards per game). They have a solid defense that is third in the conference in scoring defense (22.4 ppg), but just eighth in total defense (377.7 yards allowed).

However, Candle was impressed with the way they handled their situation at Western Michigan this weekend. The game was scheduled for Saturday but took place Sunday because of flooding at Waldo Stadium.

“They certainly were not in an ideal situation, when you travel to Kalamazoo and you check out of your hotel and think you are going to be playing your game,” Candle said. “Win or lose, you are going to get home, have a good Sunday, and get ready to play the next opponent. But ‘Oh by the way, we are going to [postpone] the game, you are going to have to find someplace to stay Saturday night, and you are going to come home late on Sunday.’ Then you are behind the eight-ball a little bit to go play the next week. But they relied on their senior leadership and relied on their staff.”

UT senior defensive tackle Marquise Moore said when the team watched film on Akron, they saw a Zips team that should come into the Glass Bowl with a sense of belief after the big win against the reigning MAC champion.

“That was a good win for them, and I feel like they have a good team and are going to be confident coming in here,” Moore said. “It’s going to be a good game. They just beat the MAC champs from last year. Of course, they are going to come in here with a chip on their shoulder at 3-0 in the conference. I think they are going to come in and give us their all.”

After the conditions at Central Michigan dictated more of a rush-heavy offensive approach for both teams, UT senior cornerback Trevon Mathis said they should be tested more in the passing game this week with Woodson and a good group of Akron receivers.

“They have a good receiving core with a couple of guys that they like to attack vertical with,” Mathis said. “It’s all about our preparation and our guys doing what we do preparing and studying film. We should be able to handle it.”

Contact Brian Buckey at: bbuckey@theblade.com419-724-6110, or on Twitter @BrianBuckey.

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