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Toledo, Western Michigan similar in many ways

11/22/2016, 12:41am EST
By By BRIAN BUCKEY BLADE SPORTS WRITER

Rockets, Broncos have top offenses, are stingy on defense

Toledo, Western Michigan similar in many ways

As the University of Toledo and Western Michigan prepare for a Mid-American Conference West Division showdown Friday, the similarities between the two programs are not lost on Broncos coach P.J. Fleck.

“Toledo is a phenomenal football team with a really, really talented coach,” Fleck said. “When you look at their culture over the last decade, from Tim Beckman to Matt Campbell to Jason Candle, they haven’t skipped a beat. That’s a credit to them. They are very, very talented. It’s like looking in the mirror, on offense, defense and special teams. It’s amazing how similar we both really are.”

The similarities between the two teams start on offense, where Toledo and Western Michigan have a talented quarterback leading a balanced attack. Each team has talented playmakers on the outside and a good running game behind a solid offensive line.

The Broncos lead the MAC in scoring offense at 43.8 points per game, while the Rockets are second at 39.2 points. Toledo leads the MAC in total offense at 536.5 yards per game, while Western Michigan is second at 509.8 yards per game.

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The Broncos are led by senior quarterback Zach Terrell, who ranks third in the conference in passing yards per game at 262.7. Terrell has a big-time target in Corey Davis, who has a chance to become the all-time leading receiver in the NCAA. Davis is averaging 109.3 receiving yards per game this season, tops in the MAC.

Western Michigan’s Jarvion Franklin is the conference’s leading rusher at 111.6 yards per game, and sophomore Jamauri Bogan is 10th with 73.6 yards per game.

“They’re an explosive offense and they have a ton of balance,” Candle said. “They have a really good running attack behind a good offensive line and certainly a quarterback that doesn’t make mistakes. And Corey has provided a security blanket for the quarterback in tough situations.”

Junior Logan Woodside leads Toledo’s balanced offensive attack with 332.1 passing yards per game, tops in the MAC. Woodside’s 40 touchdown passes leads the nation and his 3,653 passing yards this season set a single-season school record. The top target for Woodside is junior Cody Thompson, who ranks second in the MAC with 102.4 receiving yards per game. Senior tight end Michael Roberts is the team’s top red-zone threat with 12 receiving touchdowns this season.

Senior Kareem Hunt adds 105 rushing yards per game, which ranks third in the conference. Junior Terry Swanson averages 48.6 yards per game as he mixes in with Hunt.

“We build everything around our running game,” Candle said. “Our back gets a lot of attention and it is certainly well deserved for Kareem, he’s had a tremendous career and he’s having another great season. When you are able to build everything around him and that good offensive line, that opens up some things in the passing game and Logan has been able to take advantage of some situations down the field where we do have one-on-one matchups. There are some explosive players on the perimeter that can separate from defensive backs.”

The similarities extend to the defense, where Western Michigan is the MAC leader in scoring, allowing just 17.7 points per game. Toledo is second at 22.5 points.

The Broncos are coming off of a shutout Saturday of Buffalo, their second of the season after blanking Akron on Oct. 15. The Toledo defense, meanwhile, has improved during the season. Since allowing 31 points in a home loss to Ohio, the Rockets have allowed an average of 20 points in next three games.

“They had a little bit of a sour taste in their mouth after that Ohio game,” Candle said of his defense. “I give our kids a lot of credit, they just stayed the course and continued to play. They had every excuse in the world to pack it in, but they certainly haven’t done that. They’ve done a good job getting off the field on third down. There are proud seniors on that side. Guys like John Stepec and Treyvon Hester and DeJuan Rogers, those guys have played a lot of football here for us.”

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

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Toledo’s defense must stop Western Michigan quarterback Zach Terrell, who ranks third in the Mid-American Conference in passing yards heading into Friday’s game. ASSOCIATED PRESS

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