Imagine studying for a test and needing to pore through pages of several books, rather than one, to find material you are in search of.
That's essentially the pains the University of Toledo football team faces this week as it readies for its season opener. The Rockets must analyze film on Michigan, West Virginia, and Pittsburgh -- none of whom they'll be playing Saturday.
Arizona, which will host UT in the final installment of a three-game series, is a tricky opponent. Everything is new, from their head coach, to their offense, to their quarterback, to their defensive scheme.
"It certainly makes the challenge unique, but I think the same thing can be said for our defense with a new scheme and a new coordinator," UT coach Matt Campbell said.
By comparison, the Rockets are a model of stability under first-year coach Campbell. Their offense is unchanged and many coaches are back. The defense has undergone slight modifications but still resembles the units Arizona faced in 2010 and 2008.
New coach Rich Rodriguez was out of coaching in 2011, making his three-year run at Michigan the most current review available of his variation of the spread offense. Many of his assistants worked last year at Pittsburgh, including offensive coordinator Calvin Magee, so UT will view cut-ups of the Panthers.
To know how Arizona will attack defensively, there will be tape analyzed of West Virginia, where coordinator Jeff Casteel spent the past 11 years before reuniting with Rodriguez. Casteel's 3-3-5 scheme is uncommon. UT saw it just once last year, against Western Michigan.
One positive for Toledo is Rodriguez's teams are slow to adapt to his system. He was 2-8 his first year at Salem, 1-7-1 at Glenville State, 3-8 at West Virginia, and 3-9 at Michigan. Combined record: 9-32-1. "We're going to see pretty much the same thing they did at Michigan," defensive end Christian Smith said.
Stoops did Rodriguez a favor last year when he redshirted senior quarterback Matt Scott, but that move doesn't do any good for UT. Scott, who totaled 1,811 combined yards in three seasons in a dual-threat role, seems perfectly suited for Rodriguez's scheme. He completed 5 of 7 passes in a blowout win in 2010 at the Glass Bowl, tossing a touchdown in a backup role. "His arm's kind of suspect, they've said, but we have no film on him, so we don't know," safety Mark Singer said.
One film the Rockets won't watch is their win against Michigan in 2008 -- Rodriguez's first season. That 13-10 triumph, some might say, is the greatest in program history. "We'd love to go back and look, but it's a little too dated for us," Campbell said.
SHORT YARDS: As expected, receiver James Green (knee) will not play. His availability for next week at Wyoming is undetermined. ... Campbell affirmed the grasp Chris Dukes and Cheatham Norrils have on the cornerback jobs, saying those two would start if the game was today.
Contact Ryan Autullo at: firstname.lastname@example.org, 419-724-6160 or on Twitter @AutulloBlade.
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