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Patchwork UT offensive line delivers

10/23/2016, 12:23am EDT
By By BRIAN BUCKEY BLADE SPORTS WRITER

Against Central Michigan on Saturday, the depth of the University of Toledo offensive line was put to the test.

An offensive line that came into the year with four returning starters was down to just one (Storm Norton) for most of the Rockets’ 31-17 win against the Chippewas.

RELATED CONTENT: Woodside, Thompson connect for 4 touchdowns in UT win ■ Briggs Column

IN PICTURES: Toledo 31, Central Michigan 17

With Mike Ebert and Elijah Nkansah unavailable after suffering injuries against Bowling Green a week earlier and Paul Perschon injured during Saturday’s game, UT was forced to turn to backups Brant Weiss, Nate Jeppesen, and Yazeed Atariwa to fill the gaps.

“Three of our five offensive linemen were new,” UT coach Jason Candle said. “Brant [Weiss] got the start at right tackle, Nate [Jeppesen] started at right guard, and Yazeed [Atariwa] came in and played when Paul [Perschon] got injured. That is a testament to our depth and to offensive line coach Mike Hallett. Our crew prepared well, as they have done each game week. Hopefully we get our injured players back in the near future.”

The patchwork offensive line passed the test as it was able to protect quarterback Logan Woodside and create running lanes for running backs Kareem Hunt and Terry Swanson.

“All to the credit to coach Hallett and those guys down there,” Woodside said. “They come work each day and we didn’t really miss a beat up front. We ran the ball really effectively, which is good.”

WOODSIDE’S NUMBERS: With a four-touchdown performance against Central Michigan, Woodside has thrown at least four touchdown passes in each of the last six games.

Woodside is closing in on the single-season touchdown record for a UT quarterback. Woodside has thrown 28 touchdown passes, the third-highest single-season total in UT history. Bruce Gradkowski holds the record with 29 in the 2003 and 2005 seasons.

With Saturday’s performance, Woodside moves into fourth place in school history with 48 career touchdown passes, passing Aaron Opelt (46 TDs, 2006-09) and Chuck Ealey (45 TDs, 1969-71). Gradkowski holds the school mark with 85 in his career.

“He’s talented,” Candle said. “It’s an old cliche, but when talent and hard work mix together, you are dangerous. He’s really, really worked hard to be good at his position. He’s playing at an elite level, and he has a great rapport with his receivers. They are on the same page.”

THOMPSON’S DAY: Cody Thompson tied his career high with seven catches for a game-high 122 yards and a career best four touchdowns against Central Michigan.

Eric Page holds the UT record with five touchdown receptions against Northern Illinois on Nov. 1, 2011.

Thompson has recorded a touchdown catch in all but one game this season.

CAREER FIRST: Toledo senior safety Connery Swift recorded his first collegiate interception on CMU’s opening possession of the third quarter. Swift also recorded four tackles in the game.

SECOND QUARTER: Toledo was held scoreless in the second quarter for the first time this season. The Rockets have outscored the opposition 62-3 in the second quarter.

Contact Brian Buckey at: bbuckey@theblade.com or 419-724-6110.

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Tag(s): College  Toledo