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Offenses in spotlight as Toledo hosts Tulsa

09/15/2017, 2:00pm EDT
By By BRIAN BUCKEY BLADE SPORTS WRITER

Rockets defense faces toughest test yet this season.


Toledo's Justin Clark, right, takes down Elon's Brelynd Cyphers during their game on Aug. 31. The Rockets defense will be tested Saturday against high-octane Tulsa. BLADE/KATIE RAUSCH

Defensive purists might want to hide their eyes. A high-octane shootout could be in order Saturday at the Glass Bowl.

Tulsa brings to the University of Toledo an offense averaging 45 points and 549.5 yards per game. Just as eye-popping as the offensive stats are for the Golden Hurricane, the defensive numbers are equally as generous to opponents.

The Rockets and their bounty of offensive weapons will go up against a defense surrendering 50.5 points and a whopping 618 yards per game.

The first point of emphasis for Toledo will be the Tulsa offense, with standout running back D’Angelo Brewer and a sophomore dual-threat quarterback in Chad President.

“This is a balanced attack,” UT coach Jason Candle said. “This is a team that got behind early in the game against Oklahoma State and probably didn’t commit to the run as much as they would want to. Saturday, what you saw was them committing to the run and a back that had almost 300 yards and their rushing statistics were off the charts. This is a good team and a balanced team that can stretch you vertically and make you defend [the whole width of the field].”

Tulsa lost its season opener 59-24 at Oklahoma State before Brewer and the offense kicked it into high gear in a 66-42 win against Louisiana. In the Louisiana game, Brewer rushed for 262 yards and three touchdowns.

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Watching Brewer on tape, Candle knows he will be a headache for his defense and says every defender will have to take care of their individual assignments if they want to contain the talented senior running back.

“What doesn’t stand out?” Candle said of Brewer. “He has tremendous vision in the hole. He’s a strong runner and a point-of-attack guy. I think he can score the ball wherever. He’s a good back. We have to tackle really well and be in our gaps. The first touchdown he broke in Saturday’s game [against Louisiana], one guy was out of his gap and turned around and the ball was in the end zone. That’s what good players do.”

On the other side of the ball, Toledo will challenge what has been a porous defense at times for Tulsa.

Through two games, the Rockets are averaging 42 points and 489.5 yards per game. Senior Logan Woodside has 273 passing yards per game this season with two TD passes. With a three-back rotation — Terry Swanson, Art Thompkins, and Shakif Seymour — the Rockets have racked up 216.5 rushing yards per game. Cody Thompson and Diontae Johnson are the leading receivers with 106.5 and 76.5 receiving yards per game, respectively.

“They have an unbelievable quarterback in Woodside, a guy that has a chance to play at the next level,” Tulsa coach Philip Montgomery said. “He can really spin it and can make every throw on the field that you want to make. He’s got two returning outside receivers that are very talented in Thompson and [Jon’Vea] Johnson. Both of those guys can really play. Then they are balanced in what they do. They are making you defend the whole field. They really have three running backs back there that have gained good yards, with Swanson being the leader of it all. They can plug those guys in at any time and get what they want at the running back position.”

Toledo’s defense has been good so far this season, allowing just 18.5 points per game in wins against Elon and Nevada. The Wolf Pack tested Toledo’s defense with its Air Raid attack, and for the most part the Rockets defense held up.

They will have the toughest assignment of the season with Tulsa’s up-tempo offensive style and the skill of Brewer behind what is a good offensive line.

“It starts with the five guys up front,” Montgomery said of Brewer’s success. “Those guys are paving the way for him and he knows that. He does a great job in being able to have great vision, see lanes, set up blocks, and be able to run through arm tackles when he has to.”

Along with Brewer, sophomore Corey Taylor II also has been effective at running back, averaging 89.5 yards per game with four touchdowns through two games. The Golden Hurricane ran the ball 72 times against Louisiana, so UT cornerback Trevon Mathis knows the Rockets will have to be ready against what could be a run-heavy attack.

“It’s 11 men to the ball, that’s our mentality,” Mathis said. “You never know when the play is going to break and we have to be there to make that tackle. It’s everybody’s job, because they have great running backs. We all have to execute and be gap sound. Everybody has to do their responsibility and we will be OK.”

Tulsa at Toledo

Time: 7 p.m.

Records: Tulsa is 1-1; Toledo is 2-0

TV: ESPN3

Radio: 1370

Series: Tied 1-1

Favorite: Toledo by 9

Notes: Toledo will honor its All-Century team at halftime as part of its 100-year anniversary celebration. ... Toledo opens the season 2-0 for the third consecutive season. …The Rockets will make the return trip to Tulsa in 2020. …Senior quarterback Logan Woodside is just the fourth UT quarterback to throw for more than 7,000 yards. …Senior receiver Cody Thompson caught a career-high eight passes against Nevada. …Senior running back Terry Swanson has two TDs in each of the first two games of the season…Tulsa running back D’Angelo Brewer rushed for 262 yards against Louisiana. That is the most rushing yards by a player this seaso. n…Tulsa quarterback Chad President will make just his third career start. …Sophomore Corey Taylor II rushed for 111 yards and two scores in the season opener against Oklahoma State. …Tulsa ran 92 plays against Louisiana for 667 yards.

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

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