Boston College - Toledo Preview

The Motor City Bowl isn't exactly what the BC Eagles and their fans were hoping for, but the Eagles are bowl-bound for the fourth consecutive year nonetheless. The Eagles will face the offensively-charged Toledo Rockets on December 26th at Ford Field in Detroit. The game will televised on ESPN and will start at 5:00 pm. Toledo finished the season at 9-4 while piling up over 6,000 yards of total offense. Their 36.2 points per game ranks 10th in the nation among Division 1-A schools. Here is a brief preview of the Mid-American Conference's Toledo Rockets.


Toledo's Senior quarterback Brian Jones had an excellent year, throwing for 3,115 yards and 21 touchdowns against only 7 interceptions. Most impressive of all, however, is his accuracy. Jones completed an amazing 70.7% of his passes this season, tops in the nation. Jones also finished third in the country in pass efficiency rating behind only Iowa's Brad Banks and Marshall's Byron Leftwich.


Jones has taken advantage of all of his receivers in 2002, but none more than Senior wideout Carl Ford who caught 69 passes for 958 yards and 8 TD's on his way to All-MAC second team honors. On the other side is another Senior, Donta Greene who accumulated 649 receiving yards on 59 catches. At tight end, Jones has Sophomore Andrew Clarke who hauled in 36 passes for 405 yards and came up big around the goal line, scoring 7 touchdowns. The Rockets will normally use a three wide receiver formation with only one running back.

Running Backs

Toledo's running game is just as strong, if not stronger, than their passing attack. The Rockets have three legitimate threats, two of which are Freshmen. Leading the Rockets in yards and yards per carry is frosh Astin Martin (gotta love that name) who carried the ball 129 times for 754 yards and 6 touchdowns this season. This averages out to an impressive 5.8 yards per carry in case you are scoring at home. Martin has split time at tailback with another fabulous freshman, Trinity Dawson. Dawson rushed for 726 yards and led the Rockets with 11 TD's on the ground. The third piece of the puzzle is Senior William Bratton who averaged 5.6 yards per carry on his way to 639 yards and 10 TD's. Bratton suffered an ankle fracture on October 26th and has been out of the lineup, but might be ready for the Motor City Bowl.

Offensive Line

Much of the team's success on the ground comes as a result of an enormous offensive line that averages 6'5" and 322 pounds. The Toledo offensive line is actually one inch taller and 19 pounds heavier than BC's big offensive line, on average. In fact, Toledo's o-line is the second heaviest in the entire country. The biggest of all Toledo's linemen is 6'9" Junior Erik Faasen. The Rockets also had two All-MAC first team selections on the offensive line in Senior center Chris Tuminello and Sophomore tackle Nick Kaczur.

Defensive Line

Toledo's front four has clearly not been the strength of their defense. The foursome of Ofili, Williams, Jeudy and Alexander combined for only 141 tackles and 10 sacks this season. Toledo's defensive line averages 268 pounds, which is exactly the same average as BC's injury-riddled front four. Toledo ranked 51st in the nation against the run in 2002.


Toledo's strength on defense comes from its two outstanding Senior inside linebackers, Tom Ward and David Gardner. Ward collected an amazing 162 tackles this season while Gardner added 143 tackles and was Toledo's top pass rusher with 3 sacks and 10 quarterback hurries. Both players were named to the All-MAC first team.


Toledo's secondary has been very busy in 2002. Junior corner Brandon Hefflin led the team with 6 interceptions to go along with 7 passes broken up. Freshman rover Keon Jackson also made some big plays, collecting 3 INT's and leading the team with 11 passes broken up. Jackson finished second in the MAC Freshman of the Year voting. The Rockets also have experience in Senior corner Jehu Anderson, who has started 43 consecutive games dating back to the middle of his Freshman year.

Special Teams

Toledo's freshman placekicker Jason Robbins had an excellent rookie year, converting 12 of 15 field goals. Ironically, Robbins missed 8 of his 60 extra point attempts. After a shaky start Robbins has been nearly perfect connecting on his last 8 field goal attempts and 30 of 31 extra points. Junior Brandon Hannum will be doing the punting. He has averaged a respectable 39.2 yards per kick this season. Donta Greene will take care of the punt return duties and handles the bulk of the kickoffs. Green's 22.6 average on kickoffs is solid, but he is much more dangerous on punt returns where he has averaged 15.2 yards per return (13th in the country), including a touchdown. Also keep an eye out for Junior Paul Dye who has blocked four punts during his career.

Final Analysis

This is a tough game to predict because the two teams face such a different level of competition during the season. BC plays teams like Miami of Florida, Toledo plays teams like Miami of Ohio. The Eagles and Rockets played two common opponents this season. Both teams lost at Pittsburgh -- the Eagles lost 19-16 in an overtime heartbreaker while Toledo lost 37-19. However, the Rockets were able to move the ball against the Panthers. The other common foe was Central Michigan. Both teams destroyed the Chippewas -- BC 43-0 and Toledo 44-17.

Normally, in a Big East/Mid-American Conference battle, the Big East team would have a decided edge based on the size differential of each team's offensive and defensive lines, but that is not the case here. Toledo's defensive line is the same size as BC's and their offensive line is actually mcuh bigger. BC's highly-ranked secondary should be able to handle Jones and the passing game, but my worry will be the matchup between Toledo's enormous and talented offensive line and BC's young and banged up defensive front four. It will definitely not be in BC's best interest to let Toledo get an early lead and be in a position to wear down the Eagles with the ground game. Toledo has also been spectacular in the red zone, something that the Eagles need to change. On the other side of the ball, Toledo's defense is nothing to write home about. They rank near the middle of the pack nationally in yards allowed per game, but considering the schedule that they play, that ranking is not very impressive.

If the BC defense can contain Ward and Gardner and keep them from making big plays and forcing turnovers, then the Eagles should be able to put points on the board early and often. Each team has the potential to make big plays on special teams which, as always, could be the difference in a close game. This should be a highly entertaining game. The Eagles should win their third consecutive bowl game, but this will be no cakewalk.

Prediction: Boston College 37 Toledo 31
Toledo Links
Official Site
Game Results
Unofficial Site
Motor City Bowl Site
CBS Sportsline
The Sporting News

By the Numbers
Toledo scored 470 points this season and gave up 327
Toledo has converted 19 of 33 fourth down conversions this season
Toledo totaled 6,178 yards of total offense this season (475/game)
The Rockets collected 317 first downs in 13 games (24.5/game)

Offense - Run 51 12
Offense - Pass 56 32
Defense - Run 84 51
Defense - Pass 7 46