My colleague at The Blade, Ryan Autullo, covers the University of Toledo. One thing he does on his blog is conduct a weekly Q & A with a writer from the Rockets' opposition that week. Since BG provides the opposition this week, we've traded questions.
Here are Autullo's answers to my questions about the Rockets. ...
1. What is the biggest change that players have mentioned to you since Matt Campbell has taken over as head coach from Tim Beckman?
see Campbell more as a player's coach, an extension of his style as the
offensive coordinator. I sense not all players liked Beckman, although
the majority respected him and appreciated his instilling life into a
forlorn program. I don't know that you'd find anyone on the team who
doesn't like Campbell. They were excited when he got the job. As for
differences in their coaching and managerial philosophies, I'm not sure
much has changed. Both prohibit the media from watching practice, save
for 20 minutes at the beginning, and both make freshmen and first-year
players unavailable to the media. Campbell borrowed these ideologies
from Beckman. Given that Campbell is only 32, and the average age of his
coaching staff is 34, the players feel a strong personal connection to
2. It looks as if Terrance Owens has taken over as the starting quarterback. How has the back-and-forth of the quarterback derby helped and/or hurt the Rocket offense?
Well, Austin Dantin did not play
last week at Wyoming, snapping a streak of 27-straight appearances when
healthy. He and Terrance Owens split 14 series evenly in the opener at Arizona.
The shared arrangement has been successful in the past, but that was
when UT was rife with playmakers like Adonis Thomas and Eric Page, plus
an offensive line with experienced guys. Against Arizona, the rotation
sputtered. Owens, who led Toledo to its only two touchdowns, was yanked
in the second half after fumbling in his own territory. He didn't play
again until the Wyoming game, which in hindsight was probably a mistake.
Dantin couldn't get much going.
3. The numbers of yards given up by the defense the first two games hasn't been good, but the point totals aren't terrible. How would you assess the way the Rockets defense has played in the first two games?
The yards --- more than 1100 --- are ghastly. That's a result of
poor tackling more than anything. Well, that, and they've played two
talented dual-threat quarterbacks. The cornerback position needs to get
better, which could come with more more experience as Cheatham Norrils
and Chris Dukes are first-year starters. I actually think the line has
played pretty decently, but losing Danny Farr to a knee injury at
Wyoming could set them back. In short, the yards per game will decrease
as the year goes along. Only one way to go, right?
4. How have the special teams held up for the Rockets -- and are there any weapons in particular to watch for?
Against Arizona they were
strong but just so-so against Wyoming. Jeremiah Detmer will kick a
touchback every time he tees up the ball, but he also missed two field
goals of under 40 yards at Wyoming. Returner Bernard Reedy fumbled twice
last week, once on a punt and another on a kickoff. Toledo retained
possession both times. Punter Vince Penza was named MAC West special
teams player of the week after Arizona.
5. Campbell said all the right things during his time with the media Monday. But what has been the mood of the Rockets players and coaches for this rivalry, particularly knowing that two UT coaches once coached at BG?
I don't think it makes a difference to them anymore. It's been four years since Campbell coached at BG, and I wouldn't be surprised if some of the younger players were even aware of his previous place of employment. Stan Watson, the special teams coordinator, will probably take a little needling from his players.
Click here to read Autullo's questions -- and my answers -- about the Falcons entering Saturday's game.