UT sophomore QB Terrance Owens will take the first snap of the Military Bowl, but new coach Matt Campbell expects to use both Owens and junior Austin Dantin -- who was hurt the last two games -- during the game.
WASHINGTON -- In an effort to maintain cohesion for his players, University of Toledo football coach Matt Campbell will call plays from the press box at RFK Stadium on Wednesday for the Rockets' matchup against Air Force in the Military Bowl.
Campbell has had a bird's-eye view in the coaches' box for every game the last three seasons as the Rockets' offensive coordinator under former coach Tim Beckman, so even though it's unorthodox for a head coach not to be on the sideline, he'll maintain his place above the field for his first game at the helm for UT.
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Associate head coach/running backs coach Louis Ayeni will serve as the de facto head coach on the sideline for the game.
"We tried to keep things as similar as we possibly could," Campbell said Tuesday. "It was a little bit of a tough decision, but I think with the circumstance we're in, we've had great success and we know how to win right now. And I think the most important for these kids is not to give them too much change.
"We've been through a lot, so let's keep it as consistent as we can for this game."
The Rockets have been without two assistant coaches for the last week of their bowl preparations after tight ends coach Alex Golesh and co-defensive coordinator Mike Ward followed Beckman to Illinois.
Campbell brought in former graduate assistant and director of football operations Tom Manning from Mount Union to fill the vacancy at offensive line coach, and Paul Nichols has taken over sole duties as defensive coordinator while also working with the linebackers and safeties.
Current graduate assistants Dan Ifft and Joe Gilreath have assumed more duties as well to compensate for the coaching losses.
"We've been fortunate because I think we've got a wealth of knowledge and a wealth of people that we really haven't skipped a beat too much from a coaching standpoint," Campbell said. "Those guys have really done a great job."
OWENS TO START: Campbell said Tuesday that sophomore quarterback Terrance Owens will take the first snap behind center for UT against Air Force, with junior Austin Dantin also seeing time.
Dantin had been entrenched as the starter all season until suffering a concussion against Western Michigan on Nov. 8 and missing the final two games of the regular season.
While Dantin was sidelined, Owens performed well, completing 80 percent of his passes while throwing for 737 yards and seven touchdowns in his last 10 quarters.
"We'll go with T.O. because he's been the guy the last couple games," Campbell said. "[But] the neat thing about those two is, I don't know if it matters who starts or when they come in. They're pretty unselfish kids."
SIZE ADVANTAGE: The Rockets will have an imposing size advantage over Air Force at several positions, especially on the offensive and defensive lines.
The average height on UT's offensive line is 6-foot-5 with an average listed weight of 298 pounds. The average height and weight on the Falcons' defensive line is 6-3, 257 pounds.
The Rockets' defensive line also is bigger than Air Force's offensive line, with an average height and weight of 6-3, 277 pounds compared to 6-3, 261 pounds for the Falcons.
"That'll be a huge, huge formidable challenge for us," Air Force coach Troy Calhoun said. "But it doesn't mean we can't do it. It just means there's going to have to be great cohesion, tremendous spirit, and we'll have to play really, really well together."
HAPPY BIRTHDAY: The elder statesman on UT's roster, sixth-year senior cornerback Desmond Marrow turns 24 on Wednesday. Marrow said earlier this month that a Toledo victory against Air Force would make for a great birthday present.