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HomeSportsUT
Published: Monday, 9/24/2012 - Updated: 1 year ago

UT knows it has work to do before MAC play

Defense struggles in win on Saturday

BY RYAN AUTULLO
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Dan Molls, 32, and Mark Singer, 43, can't keep Coastal Carolina's Tyrell Blanks from hauling in a pass to score a touchdown. The Rockets gave up 356 passing yards to the Chanticleers. Dan Molls, 32, and Mark Singer, 43, can't keep Coastal Carolina's Tyrell Blanks from hauling in a pass to score a touchdown. The Rockets gave up 356 passing yards to the Chanticleers.
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Central Michigan scored an upset, on the road, at a Big Ten stadium.

Western Michigan, Northern Illinois, and Ball State, all playing host to a BCS opponent, carded a hat trick.

Although winless still, Eastern Michigan led 35 minutes into a contest at an in-state school in the Big Ten.

Facing brand name opponents, five of the six members in the West division of the Mid-American Conference gave exemplary performances Saturday. The exception was the team predicted to win the title.

Juxtaposed to its contemporaries, the University of Toledo's narrow home victory over a Football Championship Subdivision school appears doubly alarming.

Laboring to beat Coastal Carolina, 38-28, is reason for pause entering a stretch of the schedule where the Rockets apparently will face a title contender in several weeks. The Chanticleers, who had totaled just 13 points in their previous five games against an opponent from the FBS, gained more yards, notched more first downs, and possessed the ball longer than a Toledo team whose inability to put the game away might have derived from its taxing early schedule.

If the Rockets (3-1) progressed -- particularly on defense -- in last week's rivalry win over Bowling Green, Saturday could be viewed as backsliding.

"A lot of it goes back on us as coaches," said Matt Campbell, whose team trailed in the second half and led by only three midway through the fourth quarter. "We have to do a better job. We're going to look back on this game as a coaching staff. We're going to see a lot of areas that we need to put our kids in better position. From that part of it, it's on me."

Practice this week, in advance to a road trip at Western Michigan, will be a balancing act between scheming against the impressive quarterback Alex Carder and mending injuries.

Three starters left the game and did not return, though Campbell doesn't believe any of their ailments are significant. Quarterback Terrance Owens did not attend the team's news conference afterward because he was being treated for an undisclosed injury. Running back David Fluellen's not reentering the game was precaution, Campbell said, and linebacker Robert Bell too should be fine.

"Unfortunately guys go down, and the next guy has to be ready," said linebacker Dan Molls, the nation's second-leading tackler with 47 stops.

This week offers no reprieve to the assembly line of gifted quarterbacks the Rockets have seen. In fact, Carder, who eclipsed 9,000 career passing yards in a 30-24 win over Connecticut, might be the best yet. Rockets fans would rather forget his name. His surgery over the years of Toledo secondaries has produced eight touchdowns -- 10 when you add his rushing scores -- and 951 yards (10 percent of his career total).

Toledo, which has allowed three 300-yard passing efforts, ranks No. 119 against the pass. The course of action, Campbell noted, is to "get better at who you are."

"The problem I see is when you freak out and try to be who you're not," he said. "That's certainly not something we'll do. I think we just have to get back to some of the details a little bit."

Contact Ryan Autullo at: rautullo@theblade.com, 419-724-6160 or on Twitter @AutulloBlade.



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