Thoughts and observations from Saturday’s 31-24 loss at Ball State:
-Short of a few minor miracles,Toledo won’t be winning the division. Big game, big loss. Here is one scenario in which the Rockets can still get to Detroit: Win all remaining conference games, meaning finally beating Northern Illinois, and hope Northern Illinois beats Ball State. That scenario would create a three-way tie, with the Rockets likely getting the nod based on their victory over East champion or runner-up Bowling Green. BSU and NIU, who avoid BG and Ohio, are staring at sunny skies ahead. A lot of games left to be played, but Toledo’s odds of winning the division suffered a massive hit in Muncie.
-Ross Madison’s interception Saturday was UT’s fifth of the season, all by a different player. Good sign for the secondary, right? Not really.
-Ball State exposed Toledo’s secondary, inducing four pass interference calls, including two in the end zone on Cheatham Norrils. The defense, which has been decent through five games, will go only as far as the secondary allows. Norrils in particular has not played well. He seems afraid to gamble, content to let the receiver catch the ball and then make a tackle. Cameron Cole and Jordan Martin also got beat by a talented BSU receiving corps.
-David Fluellen now ranks fifth all-time at Toledo in rushing yards. The senior notched his 11th game of 100 yards or more, totaling 129 on 27 carries. No other running back touched the ball, which speaks to the great divide between Fluellen and his reserves.
-Defense showed some good things, but I’m not going to praise too highly a unit that allowed two 60-plus yard touchdown drives with the score tied in the fourth quarter. You gotta get a stop there. That the defense continues to create turnovers (three) is encouraging.
-The 10 penalties for 97 yards was a big factor, one that which I addressed in my game day notebook.
-Alonzo Russell’s 342 receiving yards lead Toledo, ahead of Bernard Reedy’s 328. Reedy is edging Russell in catches, 39 to 27. Russell had a fine day, snaring nine balls for 147 yards and a touchdown. His progression has been fun to watch. Right now he’s a mismatch for many MAC defenders.
-Reedy played a clunker. His 13 receptions, most of them on the perimeter, led to just 37 yards. And that number starts to look worse when you throw in the 15 yards Reedy lost for unsportsmanlike conduct. Reedy is a senior. He is a captain. Time to put an end to the antics that has led to unsportsmanlike penalties twice this year.