After a tough loss to BYU on Friday night in Provo, University of Toledo coach Jason Candle and his players are eager for the team to return to playing “Toledo defense.”
Cougars senior running back Jamaal Williams controlled the game, carrying the ball 30 times for a school-record 287 yards and five touchdowns in a 55-53 win for BYU.
“We didn’t play Toledo defense in the sense that we didn’t stop the run,” Candle said. “We made a really good back look like a really good back. We have to do a better job of limiting that.”
So what is “Toledo defense?”
“It’s a hard-nosed defense,” UT junior defensive tackle Marquise Moore said. “We set the tone from the beginning of the game to the end of the game.”
Moore said the BYU game was not characteristic of the potential of the unit.
“We didn’t stop the run and we didn’t make them one-dimensional,” he said. “They were a good team. We felt like we were evenly matched, but I feel like we lost because we didn’t play Toledo defense. We didn’t do what we usually do.”
Williams, who likely will become BYU’s all-time leading rusher this season, is a special talent that exposed the Toledo run defense.
“He’s a good player,” UT senior defensive end John Stepec said. “He’ll probably play on Sundays, and we’ll be watching him on TV doing good. He’s a hard player to stop, so give credit to him.”
Williams hurt the Rockets with power on goal-to-go runs and speed and explosiveness on long runs. He scored on runs of 1, 2, 48, 62, and 14 yards.
“I just think our defense, we just hurt ourselves and made a couple bad mistakes and played different gap assignments and just weren’t focused, I thought,” Stepec said. “We’ve got to fix those mistakes. It will hurt us later in the season if we don’t.”
Despite allowing points and big plays to BYU, Stepec said the team never stopped fighting in a hostile environment.
“I’m happy with our guys,” Stepec said. “It was a tough loss, but I’m happy that we played a full 60 minutes of the game and we never gave up and kept on playing. We just came up short, and I think defensively we need to work on some things. We got out of some of our assignments, and I just think we weren't focused.”
After allowing just 30 points in the first three games this season, Candle said the BYU game will not change the approach or mentality of the coaching staff or the defensive players.
“I think in the past we’ve lost games because we’ve played a little timid and we’ve played on our heels a little bit, and that certainly hasn’t been our staff’s approach and that’s certainly not going to be the case moving forward,” Candle said. “Hopefully, our guys know that at all costs we are going to fight for 60 minutes and whatever we say, we’re going to try to back up in our approach to things.”
Contact Brian Buckey at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6110.
BYU running back Jamaal Williams celebrates after scoring a touchdown vs. Toledo on Friday. SALT LAKE TRIBUNE