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Toledo looks to have more than one go-to guy in red zone

09/09/2017, 10:27pm EDT

Graduation of tight end Michael Roberts left big hole to fill

While Toledo had hiccups in the red zone in its opener against Elon, quarterback Logan Woodside is confident the Rockets will improve. ASSOCIATED PRESS

RENO — Last year, the University of Toledo football team had a massive threat in the red zone in tight end Michael Roberts.

Roberts, whose big body and sure hands helped him secure 16 touchdown passes from Logan Woodside last season, was drafted in the fourth round by the Detroit Lions.

Toledo perhaps missed Roberts’ presence inside the 20-yard line against Elon, as the Rockets scored a touchdown in just one of its first five trips inside the red zone. Toledo had to settle for four Jameson Vest field goals.

Woodside admitted there might not be one player who emerges as the go-to red-zone threat like Roberts did last season, but he is confident he can get the ball to the right people in the right situations.

“I think it’s really just whoever can get it in the end zone is who we will look for,” Woodside said. “We have the guys who can do that, I just have to be able to find them and get the ball to them.”

Woodside said it can be tough to try not to force the ball at times in an attempt to come away with a touchdown.

“You always want to come away with touchdowns, but three points is better than none,” Woodside said. “We’re going to continue to work each week through practice on scoring touchdowns in the red zone and hopefully we will do that this weekend.”

Woodside said one of his goals against Elon was not to throw interceptions. By not forcing the ball into coverage, he was able to do that.

While Woodside didn’t have any touchdowns in the game, UT coach Jason Candle praised the senior quarterback’s discipline afterward.

“I’m proud of our quarterback because when they are dropping back eight in coverage, there is a real temptation to force the ball in there,” Candle said. “He didn’t do that. We came away with three points. Obviously, you want seven, but the alternative is to force the ball and you can make some bad decisions and cost your team. Like a veteran leader, he did a good job of eating the ball a couple times and throwing it away on a couple others.”

Aside from the red-zone troubles, Toledo appears to have a trio of explosive playmakers at the receiver position. With senior Cody Thompson, junior Jon’Vea Johnson, and sophomore Diontae Johnson, the big plays from Woodside should be plentiful this season.

“Those guys have worked extremely hard,” Woodside said. “We’re going to try to just continue to get them the ball in space and let them do what they do.”

Contact Brian Buckey at: bbuckey@theblade.com419-724-6110, or on Twitter @BrianBuckey.

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Tag(s): College  Toledo