End zone: Toledo 9-27


The comfort for Toledo fans in knowing Western Michigan quarterback Alex Carder is out this week is akin to Packers faithful hearing locked-out NFL officials are expected to return to work.

All statistical measurements indicate Toledo's pass defense, which Carder has mutilated in a superb career, is among the worst in the nation. There's the ghastly ranking (No. 119 nationally), the plays given up of 10 yards or more (most), and games in which they've allowed at least 340 passing yards (three).

There is one category, perhaps a surprising one, in which the secondary has succeeded -- coach's approval.

Among the reasons Matt Campbell was drawn to Tom Matukewicz as defensive coordinator is their shared belief that when you give an opposing offense a chance to screw up, they often will. Giving up short and intermediate routes, with cornerbacks playing 10 yards off the ball, is part of a thought out strategy, one in which Campbell refuses to apologize. Big plays, he said, "have killed us in the past."

This approach just might have merit. In allowing the Mid-American Conference's fourth fewest points -- the end all be all of defensive stats -- Toledo has feasted on turnovers, timely incompletions, and dropped passes. Risky? You bet. But given the alternative, it might be necessary.

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