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2017 Miami Hurricanes Football Game Preview: Week 4 vs. Toledo

The Rockets bring their high-flying offense to Hard Rock Stadium

Ohio v Toledo
Logan Woodside leads the Toledo aerial attack.
Photo by Andrew Weber/Getty Images

The Hurricanes could be riding high with visions of a spot in the ACC Championship and the College Football Playoff dancing in their heads if they take down mighty FSU the week before. However, the Canes must first dispatch of a Toledo Rockets team in Week 4 that is bubbling just under the surface and hungry to burst through with their own prominent win that can put them on the national radar. Here it is, the Toledo Rockets Game Preview. Also, if you’d like a more technically sound look at what Toledo brings to the table, check out Justin Dottavio’s piece on the X’s and O’s of this matchup.

Toledo In a Nutshell

After a 9-4 record in his debut season as the Rockets’ head coach, Jason Candle is looking to take the next step in his second season as Toledo's Commander-in-Chief. The Rockets return 15 starters from last season and figure to be in the hunt for a MAC championship title. Known for their high-octane offense, Candle and offensive coordinator Brian Wright want to spread you out and outscore you to pull off wins. While many within Toledo’s program have only heard stories of the mythical being known as “The 4-Star Recruit”, the Rockets offset a lack of purebred talent by combining a unique blend of scheme and toughness that capitalizes on their opponent’s mistakes.

3 Key Matchups

Miami Secondary vs. Toledo Passing Offense

The aerial attack and prolific passing of Toledo, led by reigning FBS leader in touchdown passes Logan Woodside (with a whopping 45 - WOW), will be a challenge for the inexperienced Miami secondary. Woodside boasts a strong arm and deadly accuracy to get the ball out to his playmakers in this quick strike offense. With a fearsome twosome of weapons in WR’s Cody Thompson and Jon’Vea Johnson, who combined for over 2,000 yards and 21 touchdowns last season, Toledo will test Miami’s mettle in the back 4 early and often. Newcomer DB’s Dee Delaney and Jhavonte Dean will have been battle tested coming off the FSU game the week before, and we’ll know a lot more about this Miami secondary after that game.

Western Michigan v Toledo
Cody Thompson (25) will be a handful for the new-look Miami secondary.
Photo by Andrew Weber/Getty Images

Miami Pass Rush vs. Toledo Offensive Line

Although the Rockets have experience on the O-Line, Miami touts a vicious D-Line that was among the nation’s leaders in TFL and sacks last season and returns all its big guns in 2017. It will be imperative that Miami’s pass rush of Joe Jackson, Chad Thomas, and others get into the backfield and put pressure on Woodside to prevent him from getting too comfortable in the pocket and establishing an offensive rhythm.

Miami Run Game vs. Toledo Run Defense

Mark Richt will want to institute the run game from the start against an undersized Rockets front that lacks depth. Toledo linebacker Ja’Wuan Woodley is one of the best in the MAC but will have his hands full trying to slow down Miami superstar Mark Walton. If Walton can run wild in the early going, it will put more pressure on Toledo to bring another man into the box to rub out the Miami run game. That opens up a ton of space for speed demons like Ahmmon Richards, Dionte Mullins, Jeff Thomas, and Mike Harley to blow the top off the defense deep.


This is a classic “trap game” for Miami. It will be up to the leadership in the locker room, guys like Shaq Quarterman, Chad Thomas, and Braxton Berrios, to keep the team even-keeled and focused, no matter what happens in the FSU game the week before. Miami has gone on long losing streaks 3 out of the past 5 years after losses to FSU; that can’t happen in 2017 if this Canes squad wants to reach its goals.


Many will look at a MAC opponent and see an easy win but don’t take the Rockets lightly; they can fire up the scoreboard in a hurry and will only be more comfortable in Year 2 of Candle’s system. A few Miami hiccups in the form of turnovers and penalties and this game could be a close one in the 4th quarter. Miami will be breaking in a new QB of course but, by Week 4 and after the FSU game, whoever it ends up being should be ready enough to handle Toledo. If Miami can stay focused and slow down the Rocket passing game early, their overwhelming talent and speed advantage will likely shine through and they will run away with this game. We like Miami, 31-14.