With two extra weeks to prepare for the Dollar General Bowl against Appalachian State, University of Toledo football coach Jason Candle said he is looking forward to evaluating some of the younger players on the roster and getting a head start on seeing what the future could look like for the Rockets.
“It’s huge for the development of our future and our young players — some of the guys that had to play this year due to some injuries and some other really good players that we decided we were going to redshirt and keep out,” Candle said of the bowl practices. “I think it starts to set the culture.
“I think the cool thing for me is that this weekend, some of the seniors or all the seniors won’t be at these practices. It will be cool to kind of get the culture and the heartbeat and put a picture together of what our team is going to look like in the future. It gives you a little bit of a taste of that. It kind of shows you how recruiting could supplement what you have coming back next year.”
Candle and the Toledo coaching staff will balance having an eye toward the future with preparing for the game and giving the current senior class the best opportunity to come away with a win Dec. 23 in Mobile, Ala.
“You can’t get too caught up in that, because it still is about winning the game and letting the senior class go out on top,” Candle said.
UT senior quarterback Logan Woodside said he benefited from the extra practices in the past, including his junior season, when the Rockets played Appalachian State in the Raycom Media Camellia Bowl.
“Those extra practices are more opportunities to mesh, especially for the young players to get their fundamentals down in practice situations,” Woodside said. “It’s a chance to get some live reps and it is good for them. The bowl practices helped me a lot leading into this year, just to have that extra time with the receivers.”
Here are a few true freshmen for Toledo that could gain more experience this bowl season and translate that into a bigger role during 2018:
■ Tycen Anderson, S, 6-foot-2, 185 pounds: Anderson played in all 13 games on defense or special teams. He made 12 solo tackles and assisted on nine others. He had his first career interception at Ohio and made a career-high five tackles at Bowling Green. The St. John’s Jesuit alum is an athletic safety who should continue to develop.
■ Victor Williams, Jr., S, 5-10, 185: Williams, from Warren Howland High School, played in the final 10 games of the season on defense and special teams. He had two solo tackles on the season and recorded a tackle for loss at Ball State. Williams also is a good athlete that should be a contributor as he continues to get more experience.
■ Drew Rosi, TE, 6-4, 245: Rosi, from Olentangy Liberty High School near Columbus, became more involved as a pass-catching tight end as the season went on. He finished with six catches for 90 yards. He had one catch in six different games, including a big 18-yard reception in the MAC championship game against Akron. Toledo has a need for a pass-catching tight end, and Rosi flashed some potential.
■ Bryce Mitchell, WR, 6-3, 196: Mitchell, a Bowsher graduate, is a talented young receiver who contributed three catches for 41 yards. He had two catches for 29 yards in Toledo’s regular-season game against Akron. Then he added a 12-yard reception against the Zips in the MAC title game. Mitchell also had two special teams tackles as he appeared in all 13 games. Toledo has a deep receiver group, but if Mitchell continues to progress, he should compete for playing time.
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