Toledo head coach Jason Candle flashes a thumbs-up during the fourth quarter of Thursday's game against Elon at the Glass Bowl. Blade/Katie Rausch
After a 47-13 rout of Elon on Thursday at the Glass Bowl, University of Toledo football coach Jason Candle came away seeing several areas where the Rockets could improve. Scoring touchdowns in the red zone was one of them, but he also was impressed with the team’s competitiveness in the opening week of the season.
“We have a long way to go, but that is to be expected,” Candle said. “I think you learn and find out who you are and what needs to be corrected and what mistakes and what holes you may have. I feel like I learned that we have a team that has a really good competitive spirit and plays really hard. I think when you have that, you always have a chance. We have to be better in certain situations, which is why we coach and we’ll get better at those. As far as effort and attitude, I’m not coaching that, which is a positive. I saw a spirited and motivated team out there.”
Now with Week 1 done, Toledo will head west to take on Nevada in its first road game of the season. With a time change and a long trip, Candle and his coaching staff will try to keep the team’s routine as simple as possible.
“You try to keep it as consistent as you possibly can,” Candle said. “Obviously, you have to handle the trip. It’s a long flight, and you have to deal with the altitude a bit and you have to deal with the heat. Our guys have to do a great job of taking care of their bodies, staying hydrated and eating right. I know we’ll get our guys ready to play and ready to go.”
Last season, Toledo went on a similar trip west to face BYU and played in an instant classic, falling 55-53. Candle said that experience could help this week with some of the more experienced players.
“It certainly doesn’t hurt,” Candle said. “It’s a different opponent, but the distance and everything are very comparable. The game time is a little better here than when we played out at [BYU]. Our veteran guys should know how to handle that. I think we had 18 first-timers on the trip last week to the hotel, so it will be new for some guys.”
UT senior receiver Cody Thompson said he didn’t really feel any different in the altitude at BYU.
“At BYU, personally I didn’t [feel the altitude],” Thompson said. “I know some of the guys on the team said they did, but I don’t think it affected me personally.”
The altitude at Nevada and BYU is similar. Nevada’s Mackay Stadium sits 4,610 feet above sea level, while BYU’s LaVell Edwards Stadium is 4,649 feet above sea level.
After a strong performance at home, the Rockets aren’t approaching their first road test differently.
“To be honest, I don’t think it’s that different,” UT junior defensive end Olasunkanmi Adeniyi said. “I think it’s the same mentality to go into the game and stop the run and stop the pass. It’s kind of the same thing every game.”
Nevada lost its season opener 31-20 at Northwestern.
Toledo will face a tougher test this week, and is ready for its first game on the road.
“We’re excited,” Thompson said. “It was nice to get that first one under our belt and get our first win. I wouldn’t say it was our best football. I think our best football is ahead of us. We have things to improve on and we know that. But we are excited to get back out there and play another game.
“With the heat and the time change, there is only so much you can do, so we are just trying to keep it as normal as possible.”