As the calendar creeps toward November, Mid-American Conference football games begin to shift from Saturdays to mid-week, causing a quick turnaround this week for the University of Toledo football team.
Fresh off a 48-21 win Saturday against Akron, Toledo (6-1, 3-0 MAC) will have a short week of preparation before playing Thursday at Ball State.
“You have to readjust your schedule and condense days,” UT coach Jason Candle said of this week. “You don’t get your normal Sunday or Monday off. You have to piece together a plan quickly, and hopefully there is some carry-over from the previous game plan as far as what you are trying to accomplish in all three phases. It’s a balance of recovery time and game planning. You have to give [the players] their rest and get them off their feet, but yet still understand the ball is going to be kicked off Thursday night and you have to be prepared.”
After defeating a Zips team that came to the Glass Bowl undefeated in the MAC and atop the East Division standings, and just more than a week away from a showdown with Northern Illinois, it would appear a trip to last-place Ball State has all the makings of a trap game.
But Candle was quick to dismiss that notion.
“I’m not sitting in front of our team in the morning and saying, ‘Here is what everyone thinks of you, and here’s what everybody thinks of your opponent.’ That is not how we work,” he said. “Our days are very rigid, and we are creatures of habit, and we go about our business.”
Candle said upsets are not caused by getting caught up in a trap game, but rather because of a lack of focus and intensity in preparation.
“I just think that trap games are good teams getting beat when they don’t respect their opponent and they don’t prepare the way they are supposed to prepare,” Candle said. “That’s the recipe for that. I trust the leadership of this football team that they are going to prepare for this game like they do any other game. We didn’t prepare any differently for Akron last week than we did for Miami (Fla.) or Elon. In our conference each and every week, someone is going to play against the best player they have played against all year long.”
The players, just like the coaches, are approaching the game against the Cardinals as a clean slate.
“After the game Saturday, you really have to just turn the page,” UT quarterback Logan Woodside said. “It’s a quick turnaround, so we had a good day of practice [Monday] and you just try to get all the film watching and preparation you can going into Thursday.”
Woodside said they are not taking Ball State (2-5, 0-3) lightly.
“They’ve played each team tough the whole year,” Woodside said. “Their record doesn’t speak for how talented they are. Going on the road in the MAC West is never easy, and I know that everybody in our locker room knows that. It’s going to be a big challenge for us.”
While late October and November games have done in Toledo the past few seasons in its quest for a MAC title, the Rockets find themselves in a familiar position heading down the stretch of the season.
“It’s great for us, and it’s great for our program,” Woodside said. “We’ve been here the past couple years and have just fell short. So every week is the biggest week of the season for us. We have a big opponent this week, and we are excited to go and play them for sure.”
MAC WEST AWARDS: Woodside and junior kicker Jameson Vest were honored by the MAC for their performances this past week.
Woodside was named West Division offensive player of the week, after throwing for 304 yards and five touchdowns against the Zips. Woodside completed 17-of-24 passes, including completions to 10 different receivers.
Vest was named the division’s special teams co-player of the week. He made field goals of 29 and 40 yards.
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