Thoughts on the win over Central Michigan, UT’s season one-third of the way through, and a bad bottom half of the MAC.
-Any road win is big, but a 21-point beat down on the road is impressive. The Rockets played adequatelyin all phases. No major complaints from this end. Expect to see more lob sided wins than a year ago when UT's eight-game win streak was a series of nailbiters. The Rockets are more equipped to blow out the Western Michigans and Eastern Michigans of the MAC.
-Offensive MVP four games in: David Fluellen. Without debate. Fluellen is on pace over 13 games (meaning a bowl game) to run for 1,614 yards and 13 TDs. He’s a special talent, and perhaps his greatest asset is his ability to carry the ball 30-plus times every Saturday. Developing another back or two to get 10 carries a game would be nice, but until that happens Fluellen is capable of handling the heavy workload.
-Defensive MVP: Another no-brainer. Linebacker Junior Sylvestre is flourishing in his transition to the box from the edge. His 10.75 tackles per game are 14th nationally. He also has been a turnover machine, picking off one pass, and recording two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. His coaches calledSylvestre the defensive MVP of the spring. Thus far, he’s been the defensive MVP of the season.
-Toledo is not throwing the ball deep much. That could be due to a variety of reasons: Terrance Owens had a sore arm in fall camp and perhaps he isn’t confident getting the ball down field accurately. Also, Owens faced a lot of pressure against Florida and Missouri and had to get rid of the ball quickly. Whatever the reason, downfield connections with Bernard Reedy and Alonzo Russell — hook ups we saw often last year — just aren't happening.
-The MAC, one year after celebrating a banner season, isn’t very good. Eight teams — I repeat EIGHT — are still searching for their first FBS win. The five remaining teams — Toledo, Northern Illinois, Ball State, Bowling Green, and Ohio — all could be good enough to win the conference championship. Toledo will play all but Ohio.
-The remaining schedule is split into four likely wins (Western Michigan, Eastern Michigan, Buffalo, and Akron) and four toss-ups (Ball State, Navy, Bowling Green, and Northern Illinois).
-Coach Campbell has stated his desire to play 22 guys on defense. I count 20 or so that are seeing meaningful time. A handful of others such as Robert Zimmerman, Grant Pleasant, John Stepec, and Delando Johnson, Keenen Gibbs, and Juwan Haynes, are looking for greater roles. Expect safety Jordan Haden to get on the field once healthy, which could be as soon as this week at Ball State.