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Candle takes Rockets’ reins with new, experienced staff

07/28/2016, 1:28am EDT

Rockets head to MAC media day to face questions on season

University of Toledo football coach Jason Candle has had to overhaul the Rockets’ staff this offseason. BLADE PHOTO

Jason Candle got his first taste of head coaching from the press box in the University of Toledo’s win over Temple at the Boca Raton Bowl last season.

As the 2016 season unofficially begins today with Mid-American Conference media day in Detroit, Candle prepares to make his move down to the sideline, where he will be joined by a staff of mostly new faces.

Much of the Rockets’ staff from last season followed former UT coach Matt Campbell to Iowa State, leaving it up to Candle to replace almost the entire coaching roster.

Brian Wright is the new offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. Wright most recently spent four years as offensive coordinator at Florida Atlantic. He also had coaching stops at Montana State and Youngstown State.

On the defensive side of the ball, Brian George is the new coordinator and line coach. George comes to Toledo from Kent State, where he served as defensive coordinator the past three seasons.

Robby Discher is the new special teams coordinator after he spent the past two years coaching special teams at Oklahoma State.

Other position coaches in their first season at UT include Marquel Blackwell (running backs), Mike Hallett (offensive line), Cory Robinson (cornerbacks), Mike Ward (linebackers), and Ross Watson (safeties).

Candle has said that he doesn’t want to change much of the team’s previous offensive and defensive schemes from last season.

But with so much turnaround on the staff, there could be an adjustment period for the players.

Other storylines for Toledo heading into MAC media day:

Is this the year Toledo beats Northern Illinois?

The one roadblock between Toledo and multiple trips to the MAC championship over the past several years has been Northern Illinois.

In big moments, the Rockets have fallen short of their ultimate goal at the hands of the Huskies. Toledo has lost six straight games to their MAC West rivals.

Last year was no different. Toledo had the best record in the MAC at 10-2, but again could not make it to Detroit because of a costly home loss to Northern Illinois.

The Rockets get their shot to snap the streak when the teams meet at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago on Nov. 9.

Dominant running game

UT returns four of five starters on the offensive line, and boasts three running backs who are all-conference caliber in Kareem Hunt, Terry Swanson, and Damion Jones-Moore.

The Rockets will likely lean heavily on the run game, as that is the strength of the offense and the team.

Hunt told The Blade this spring that he thinks five of UT’s running backs could start anywhere, or at least be in a backfield rotation.

Freshmen Art Thompkins and Nevone McCrimmon could challenge the upperclassmen trio for carries this season.

Replacing key defensive starters

The Rockets’ defense returns just four starters and will have to replace all-conference talents cornerback Cheatham Norrrils, defensive tackle Orion Jones, and defensive ends Trent Voss and Allen Covington.

They also lose highly productive linebacker Chase Murdock and nickelback Rolan Milligan.

The defense will also have to deal with two-game suspensions for defensive tackle Marquise Moore and linebackers Jaylen Coleman and Anthony Davis.

Safety DeJuan Rogers and defensive tackle Treyvon Hester will be counted on to provide leadership to a unit that will have to rely on inexperienced players.

Contact Brian Buckey at: or 419-724-6110.

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Tag(s): College  Toledo