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Published: Saturday, 9/14/2013 - Updated: 11 months ago

Rockets alert to problems Eagles’ QB can create

BY RYAN AUTULLO
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

In the first two weeks, the University of Toledo faced offenses with as much in common as a cement truck and a Ferrari.

Florida and Missouri move forward, though at much different accelerations.

Today brings a sense of consistency. Eastern Washington, with its blurry pace and multiple receiver looks, is not unlike the offense Toledo saw a week ago at Missouri.

Kickoff is at 7 p.m., and the Rockets will have their hands full against perhaps the most talented of the 22 FCS teams they’ve played.

“Basically the same offense we faced last week,” safety Chaz Whittaker said. “But the quarterback can do more things with his feet.”

That quarterback, Vernon Adams, is having quite a season. A sophomore who split snaps a year ago, Adams totaled a school-record 518 yards in the opener to take down No. 25 Oregon State.

Eastern Washington’s 49-46 triumph, whose foundation was built on six Adams touchdowns, marked just the third time a FCS team beat a ranked FBS opponent.

Combined with another fine showing in last week’s 43-14 win against Division II Western Oregon, Adams is averaging 430.5 yards of the second-ranked Eagles’ 611 yards. Toledo, whose offense has been unhinged by turnovers and stingy defenses, is averaging 296 yards in two games.

“At times, if it’s not there, he’ll take off and run,” defensive end Jayrone Elliott said of Adams. “At the same time, he can sit back there and shred you.”

Adams, of Pasadena, Calif., had zero FBS offers, according to various recruiting services. He started nine times last year as a redshirt freshman, but it was a game in which he came off the bench that drew the praise this week of Toledo coach Matt Campbell.

On Dec. 15, the same day Toledo faced Utah State in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, Adams subbed in for the second half of a semifinal game and nearly erased a 35-point halftime deficit. Sam Houston State prevailed 45-42, but not without an Adams-induced stomachache.

He threw for 364 yards and six touchdowns — all in the second half — and led the Eagles to touchdowns on their first five series after halftime.

“He gave them a chance to win the playoff game,” Campbell said.

Adams, with a propensity to take off and run, poses a concern similar to the one Toledo encountered a week ago.

Missouri quarterback James Franklin converted a fourth-and-3 with his feet to extend a key fourth-quarter touchdown drive and finished with 77 yards.

Adams ran for 107 yards against Oregon State before giving way a week ago to running back Quincy Forte, who gained 99 yards in his season debut.

“This quarterback is more elusive and can do more with his feet,” cornerback Cameron Cole said, comparing Adams to Franklin. “We have to contain the quarterback better than we did last week.”

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



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