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Rockets quickly learn how to get defensive

11/10/2016, 12:34am EST
By By BRIAN BUCKEY BLADE SPORTS WRITER

UT 2nd in MAC in keeping foes off scoreboard

Rockets quickly learn how to get defensive

The University of Toledo defense had perhaps its best performance as a unit last week in a 48-17 win at Akron. Aside from a long touchdown on the opening play for the Zips, the Rockets defense held Akron in check for most of the game.

“I think we played really well against Akron,” senior defensive end John Stepec said.

“I think a big part of that was coming to practice and paying attention to the small details and playing as a unit. I think we did that really well, so I think we have to do the same thing this week and be focused and ready to play this game.”

Toledo entered Wednesday’s game ranked second in the conference in scoring defense, allowing 22.8 points per game, and the Rockets were sixth in total defense, giving up 384.4 yards per game.

Aside from the breakdown in coverage on Akron’s first play from scrimmage, the Rockets were sound against the Zips.

Toledo did give up 444 yards, but held Akron to just 4-for-11 on third down and recorded two interceptions.

Stepec said it is important that everyone on the defense trusts each other and knows that if they do their job the unit will be successful.

“Sometimes you just want to make every play,” Stepec said. “But you have to know that you have to stay in your lane, your gap and you have to trust the guy behind you to make that play.”

With a difficult part of the schedule coming up for Toledo, which is coming off three games in 12 days, UT coach Jason Candle said that the team hopes to build on its defensive performance against Akron.

“You have to continue to be sound,” Candle said. “I really appreciated the good hard week of practice and attention to detail and the little things [leading up to Akron game]. I thought our preparation and focus was at an all-time high last week. That has to continue and we have to find a way to stay in that routine to finish out the season. That would be ideal. For 18-22-year-old people, it’s hard to stay focused. We just played three games in 12 days and have been practicing since Aug. 1. It’s where the games fall and how the season lays out. Sometimes it can be strenuous and a little bit difficult, but you have to be able to handle the rigors of that and get that figured out. I think our guys have done a good job of that.”

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

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University of Toledo player Treyvon Hester drills Ohio University quarterback Quinton Maxwell in a game earlier this year. BLADE PHOTO

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