University of Toledo football coach Jason Candle remembers following the career of Frank Solich when Solich was the head coach at Nebraska.
Solich, now in his 12th season as head coach at Ohio, spent six seasons with the Cornhuskers from 1998-2003.
“It’s a coach I kind of grew up watching as a kid,” Candle said. “It’s kind of interesting. I certainly have a tremendous amount of respect for him and his program. His career speaks for itself and what he has been able to accomplish.”
When Toledo (6-1, 3-0 Mid-American Conference) takes on Ohio (5-3, 3-1) at the Glass Bowl tonight, it will be quite the contrast in head coaching experience. Solich is the fourth-longest tenured coach in the NCAA, and his 85 career conference wins rank him third in league history.
Candle boasts a 7-1 record heading into what will be his ninth game as the top man for the Rockets.
The game also will feature a contrast in styles as the Bobcats are led by a strong defense, while Toledo has one of the best offenses in the MAC.
Ohio has the third-ranked scoring defense (24.2 points per game) in the MAC and is the top team in the conference defending the run (115.1 rush yards per game).
“They are a very well-coached team,” Candle said. “They are a veteran coaching staff that has been doing it for a long time. It’s a team that doesn’t beat itself. They really rally around their defense. They are stout on defense and have a good defensive front.”
Toledo leads the MAC in total offense (542.1 yards per game) and is second in scoring offense (41.3 points per game).
The Rockets also are coming off a strong defensive effort in Saturday’s 31-17 win against Central Michigan. The defense ranks second in the MAC in points allowed (22.4 per game).
“We just have to make sure that we are playing really sound defense and fast defense,” Solich said. “They can beat you through the air as well as on the ground. They are averaging 200 yards on the ground, so it is kind of a pick your poison deal. I think [Logan Woodside] leads the nation in passing efficiency as well. Obviously they have it going on on both ends and it is very difficult to control a team like that, especially when they have the talent level that they do. It is a real challenge for us, on both ends.”
Despite the facing a tough run defense, UT senior running back Kareem Hunt is confident the Rockets will be able to move the ball on the ground.
“We feel like we should be able to run the ball against anybody in the country,” Hunt said. “We believe that and we are hopefully going to be able to live up to that.”
Woodside, the UT quarterback, is leading the country with 28 passing touchdowns and a passing efficiency mark of 200.8. Woodside and his talented group of receivers will look to continue their successful season against a top MAC East opponent.
“They are a really well-coached defense,” Woodside said. “They take a lot of turnovers away and they have a lot of sacks. They have a real good defensive front and their defense as a whole is really good. It’s definitely going to be a real good challenge for us.”
On defense, the Rockets will try to build off a performance last week in which they contained one of the better quarterbacks in the conference in Cooper Rush. Rush was just 18-of-31 passing for 229 yards with a touchdown and an interception.
“We have to continue to try to fly around on defense and make plays and get the ball back to our offense and let them do whatever they have to do to make a play,” senior defensive tackle Treyvon Hester said.
Candle said he respects what Solich has been able to do with the Ohio program and hopes to lead in a similar manner at Toledo.
“It’s everything that you hope people would someday say about your team — very well-coached, don’t beat themselves, fundamentally sound and very disciplined,” Candle said. “If I can get to that point in my career, I would hope that is something people would say about our teams.”
Contact Brian Buckey at: email@example.com or 419-724-6110.
Ohio at Toledo
■ Time: 7:30 p.m.
■ Records: Ohio is 5-3, 3-1 in Mid-American Conference; Toledo is 6-1, 3-0
■ TV: CBS Sports Network
■ Radio: 1370 AM
■ Series: Toledo leads 31-19-1
■ Favorite: Toledo by 16
■ Notes: Toledo has won 12 consecutive games against Ohio. ... Ohio’s last win against Toledo came in 1988. ... Toledo is averaging 542.1 yards of total offense, which ranks seventh best in the nation. ... UT quarterback Logan Woodside leads the nation with 28 TD passes and already ranks third in UT history for most TD passes in a season. ... The school record is 29 passing TDs, set by Bruce Gradkowski in 2003 and ’05. ... Woodside has thrown at least four TD passes in six consecutive games. ... Junior receiver Cody Thompson and senior tight end Michael Roberts each have nine receiving TDs this season, good for a tie for fifth in the country. ... Ohio ranks third in the country with 3.63 sacks per game. ... Ohio senior defensive end Tarell Basham has 25.5 career sacks, which is the school’s all-time record. ... Ohio is the only program in the country to have the same head coach as well as offensive and defensive coordinator for the past 12 years. ... Ohio has been bowl eligible the past seven seasons and appeared in a bowl game in six of those years.
Ohio coach Frank Solich will square off against Toledo and Jason Candle. ASSOCIATED PRESS