ROMULUS, Mich. —- The brand new news vehicle washed and waxed and sitting inside the parking lot area that services the news gathering compound that is just a couple of stones throw away from the airport that service the metro Detroit area and the world, there is equipment sitting on the ground waiting to be loaded up inside the vehicle by a an intern.
Uncle Mel is making his second road trip of the 2011 football season following Eastern Michigan University football Saturday October 8 to the city that graces the shoreline of Lake Erie and calls the northwest corner of the state of Ohio home.
Nieces and nephews, the Eagles under the direction of third year coach Ron English appear to have made some short strides on the road to recovery but Saturday afternoon’s contest and make no doubt about it, the Eagles will be facing a tough University of Toledo football squad in side the historic Glass Bowl beginning at 3 p.m.
The Rockets and many of their fans still have a great big chip on their collective shoulder because of the blood-boiling mistake made by the NCAA referee crew that cost Toledo a victory against Syracuse University, Sept. 24 at the Carrier Dome.
Well nieces and nephews Uncle Mel did see the play in question and if I was the NCAA, I would be sending Toledo’s Athletic Department a dozen of red roses and candy along with a card expressing my deepest and sincerest apology for the mistake.
The Rocket’s were robbed by the miss call on a point after attempt that the officials on the field and under the goal post called good when clearly the ball sailed wide to left and in front of the left upright-it was not by much but at that point of the game an inch was as good as a mile wide.
University of Toledo football coach Tim Beckman did all the right things and protested the call on the field by the officials but there was no overturning the decision and the job of overcoming the emotional psychological distress became Beckman’s task for his team.
Last Saturday afternoon October 1, 2011 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the Toledo Rockets took out their frustration against a good Temple University team by defeating the Owls 36-13 in front of 21,705 Temple football fans under the sunshine and blue sky at Lincoln Financial Stadium.
“I give a lot of credit to Toledo,” Temple University football coach Steve Addazio said. “They came off a tough loss and I thought they came in here ready to play.”
English and his assistant coaching staff will be expecting Toledo to be prepared Saturday afternoon with good talent and a solid game plan that will be a challenge for the Eagles.
“They are very, very talented with their skilled players,” English said. “There very well coached especially on defense in terms of the way they disguise and they do not give up a ton of big plays.”
The Rockets have a unique offense running with a two quarterback system which in some programs does not work well because of consistency but for the Rockets there is success by both quarterbacks.
“Everybody always asks about who is going to be the starting quarterback,” Beckman said. “Well we have got the same situation at running back. We have three outstanding running backs.”
The Rocket quarterbacks Austin Dantin and Terrance Owens both are threat and are solid players and then add the combination of tailback Morgan Williams after running for 121 yards against Temple and the Rocket offense will have many weapons for the Eagles to defend.
“(Williams) is a senior and played before and has been successful here and he stepped up and played the way he is capable,” Beckman said about his tailback’s performance against Temple University. “It speaks out about the character about this football team. When your name is called – you better be ready.”
“It may be a little more zone read with one of them than the other,” English said in the Eagles approach against the two quarterback system that Toledo plays. “Really they both do similar things. We played against both last year and they have expanded their offense-they are doing more!”
Toledo’s running game provides Eastern Michigan with a challenge and the passing game for the Rockets will be an interesting chess match for defensive coordinator Phil Snow to devise.
Snow is going to have to come up with a coverage package to contain All-American wide receiver Eric Page, he is closing in on Toledo’s career reception record and he is still a junior this season.
“Toledo does a lot of things offensively, they get you in empty, three, four or five wide receivers type of sets,” English said about the Rocket offense. “They can run the power, they run what we call imposter with a skill player taking a direct snap they stretch you defensively.”
Toledo’s offense will have to keep the ball away from Eastern Michigan, Beckman said to do that the Rockets will have to manage the game with procession and managed not to turn the ball over.
The Rockets only loss the ball once against the Owls while forcing Temple to make four miscues and turning the ball back over to the Rocket offense.
English is hoping against the Rocket offense that his defense does not lose their focus or commitment, he is hoping that the Eagles defense can over come the hurdle of getting down on themselves to continue to play hard Saturday afternoon.
“We have to be patient and we know that they are going to move the ball. We have to get guys whether the ball is thrown or ran,” English said. “We have to get guys sprint to the ball. You plan for an offense like Toledo and you can not get discouraged by them moving the ball.”
English and Snow is hoping that the linebacker Justin Cudworth and Blake Poole will make an impact and provide the leadership against the Rockets.
Last Saturday afternoon at Rynerason Stadium, Poole made 10 tackles against the Zips offense, his best day as an Eagle.
“Blake (Poole) is a transfer student from Southern California and is really a talent and he will get better the more football he plays, he is still learning the game,” English said about Poole ability. “He played well last week, he needs to stay healthy and if he does he will get better and better. I am pleased with his impact on our football team.”
Eastern Michigan University offense is going to need to find a balance offense to keep Toledo’s defense honest but to do that Eagles’ quarterback Alex Gillett is going to have to find that passing accuracy that he is working on during the season so he can get better at delivering the ball on target.
If the passing game can get the Rockets back on there heels it should open up some natural holes for tailback Dominique White and for Gillett to run through for positive yardage.
Against the University of Akron, White carried the ball 28 times for 164 yards and scored three touchdown against the Zips.
“We like Dominique (White), we have liked him since he started as the third tailback this year,” English said. “We knew he was going to play and we kept grooming him. He walked onto our program and we are fortunate to have Dominique , he has been good for our team and good for the program.”
Against the Zips, Gillett threw the ball just nine times completing four throws for 94 yards, he did not throw an interception but he also did not throw a touchdown pass.
Gillett did run the ball a total of 18 times for 62 yards and one touchdown run.
So nieces and nephew English’s plan against the University of Toledo is simple enough hold on to the ball and score touchdowns and when the Rockets are moving the ball just get to the ball carrier and tackle-it sounds simple enough but the Rockets have this ability to make good teams look bad and make bad teams look really bad.
Saturday morning the brand new news gathering vehicle will be loaded up and fueled up for the journey south toward the city that you can stop and have a delicious pancake breakfast at the Original Pancake House overlooking the bottleneck traffic on Central Boulevard and wonder about – are they ever going to be through with the road repair on the interstate?
About the Author
Written by Mel Suiter
Graduated from Eastern Michigan University in 2002 and have been working as a beat writer for The Ypsilanti Courier covering Eastern Michigan University football and men's basketball during my school career and after graduation. I like the Mid-American Conference and the rest of the mid-major conferences.