The Toledo Rockets were hoping to take a breather after starting out their season by playing two SEC teams on the road (Florida Gators and the Missouri Tigers). However, after losing both of those games, the Rockets must regroup to face the upstart Eastern Washington Eagles. The Rockets understand that there is no margin for error. The Eagles pose a great challenge and the possibility for the Rockets to start the season with three straight losses is very realistic.
Eastern Washington stunned the college football world in week one by upsetting the No. 25 ranked Oregon State Beavers in Corvallis. Sitting at 2-0, they have scored over 40 points in both ball games and are averaging 611 total yards per game. The Eagles have a lethal quarterback in sophomore Vernon Adams. Adams has completed 75.9 percent of his passes for 709 yards with nine touchdowns and two interceptions. Adams can also hurt the Rockets with his feet. Against the Beavers in week one, Adams scorched Oregon State for 107 yards rushing and two touchdowns. Toledo must contain Adams and keep him in the pocket so that he will not explode for big plays. Rockets linebackers Trent Voss and Chase Murdock will be instrumental in both run support and pass coverage. The Rockets’ defensive line must force double teams in order to free up Voss and Murdock to fill the running lanes. The Rockets have been solid against the pass in their first two games, allowing just 182 passing yards per game.
Defensively, the Eagles are very solid against the run. They only surrendered 105 yards rushing to Oregon State and 28 yards on the ground to Western Oregon in last week’s victory. The Rockets have struggled offensively, averaging 14.5 points per game. However, they do have the playmakers to break out of their slump this weekend. Quarterback Terrance Owens has struggled against both SEC defenses, but he could catch fire this weekend. Owens has completed 54.4 percent of his passes with one touchdown and four interceptions. Rockets running back David Fluellen will be very important in opening up the vertical passing game for Owens. Fluellen has managed only 157 yards in two games, but he is averaging 6.04 yards per carry. Wide receivers Alonzo Russell and Bernard Reedy have been held to underneath routes and have not been able to stretch the field for big gains. Eastern Washington is giving up an average of 305.5 passing yards per game so the Rockets should be able to test the Eagles’ secondary early in the game. If Reedy and Russell can make plays in the first quarter, it could help Owens find a rhythm and get the offense back on track.
Game time is set for 7:00 pm at Toledo.