The University of Toledo’s season will begin today against a national championship hopeful.
Although that title hopeful comes from the Football Championship Subdivision — No. 4 New Hampshire — the Rockets hardly view today’s game at the Glass Bowl as a “guarantee game.”
UT coach Matt Campbell said Toledo has “the utmost respect” for New Hampshire, which is coming off its best season in school history and has made the FCS playoffs 10 straight seasons, the longest active streak in the division. The Wildcats return nearly everyone from their semifinalist squad in 2013, including a set of skill players who have Toledo’s attention.
“That’s the thing that probably jumps off the film the most, is the talent that they do have at their skill positions,” Campbell said. “Their tight end is outstanding. They’ve got two or three receivers, as I look at it, [who] would be probably one of the top two or three receivers in our conference when I look at them and their ability to run and make plays down the field.”
New Hampshire receiver R.J. Harris eclipsed 1,000 receiving yards last season, and cornerback Casey DeAndre is considered among the best in the FCS. The Wildcats took off last season after Sean Goldrich took hold of the quarterback job. Also a running threat, Goldrich likely will start today.
With so much returning from a successful team, the Wildcats were the preseason pick to win the Colonial Athletic Association and possibly more, though 16th-year coach Sean McDonnell downplayed all of it.
“We’ve made it pretty clear that all the accolades and everything we’ve had given to us this year, whether it be rankings or picks in the conference, is on past experience,” McDonnell said. “It has nothing to do with who’s playing this year or what we're doing this year. I've worked hard to make that clear.”
Campbell, on the other hand, is expecting the veteran team that found success in 2013.
With the way New Hampshire ended last season, the Rockets have prepared to play a confident, dangerous opponent.
“They’re a football team that I think was playing with a lot of confidence,” Campbell said, “and I have to imagine they ended the season with a great deal of confidence about coming into the 2014 season.”