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Breaking down the Toledo Rockets

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Posted: Thursday, November 4, 2010 12:08 am

The Offense

Quarterback: True freshman Terrance Owens had to step in for starter Austin Dantin, who was injured during the Rockets’ 42-7 win over Eastern Michigan. The Toledo’s offense didn’t miss a beat as Owens threw four touchdown passes. It’ll be interesting to see how NIU head coach Jerry Kill game plans for Owens, who’ll be making his first start.

Grade: C

Running Back: Adonis Thomas is the starting tailback and has had only one 100-yard rushing game this season. Behind Thomas is junior Morgan Williams. The Huskies catch a break as Dantin is the second leading rusher on Toledo with 442 rushing yards and has a team-leading eight touchdowns but is out for the remainder of the season.

Grade: B-

Wide Receivers: Eric Page is the vocal point of the Rockets’ passing attack, leading the team with 66 receptions. “They have a tremendous little receiver and he’s making a lot of plays, they give it to him 14 or 15 times a game,” Kill said. The other top four receivers for Toledo have yet to crack 20 receptions so this is a clear indication that the sophomore will be targeted often.

Grade: C+

Offensive line: Continuity is the best word to describe Toledo’s blocking bunch. Four starters returned from last season, all of which started all 12 games. The Rockets’ offensive line has allowed 17 sacks through nine games this season. Junior Kevin Kowalski headlines the unit.

Grade: B

The Defense

Defensive line: The front four for Toledo very well could be its strongest aspect. Defensive tackle Malcolm Riley and company have been able to put a lot of pressure on opposing quarterbacks, as the line has registered 15 of the 21 sacks on defense. “They’re causing a lot of turnovers, because of their pressure,” Kill said.

Grade: B+

Linebackers: The trio of Archie Donald, Dan Molls and Isaiah Ballard are the top three leading tacklers on the Rockets’ defense. Molls plays inside and has recorded 3.5 sacks with two fumble recoveries. NIU running back Chad Spann has a lot of confidence in his offense to open holes against the Toledo defense. “We do a good job of blocking,” Spann said. “Whatever [Toledo] gives us, we’re going to do and do it successfully.”

Grade: B

Secondary: Safety Mark Singer leads all players in the secondary with 49 total tackles. Opposite of Singer is fellow safety Diauntae Morrow who has two interceptions on the year. Senior cornerback Desmond Marrow stands a towering 6-foot-3 and will most likely be matched up on NIU receiver Landon Cox. Toledo’s secondary will be a good test for an NIU offense that has been passing the ball a lot more successfully this season.

Grade: C+

Special Teams: There hasn’t been much success for the Rockets’ kicking game. The kicking duties have been split up between Ryan Casano and Bill Claus, who have only connected on five out of 12 attempts. In contrast to the field goal unit, the punting game has been solid so far. Punter John Penza has averaged 40 yards on 40 boots.

Grade: C-

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