LB Anthony Jordan

2004 Statistics

Coach: Tom Amstutz
36-15, 4 years
2004 Record: 9-4
at Minnesota LOST 21-63
at Kansas LOST 14-63
at Eastern Michigan WON 42-32
at Western Michigan WON 59-33
OHIO WON 31-13
at Miami OH LOST 16-23
at Northern Illinois WON 31-17
vs. Miami OH WON 35-27
vs. Connecticut LOST 10-39

2004 Final Rankings
AP-UR, Coaches-UR, BCS-UR

2005 Outlook

There's no Penn State, Minnesota or Pittsburgh to upset in their hopes of gaining more national attention, just a big September 27th tilt with Fresno State by which we can measure these guys outside of their conference. But, with the guarantee of another spectacular offensive effort, Toledo should raise some eyebrows with their streamlined schedule and their decent chances to win not just another MAC title, but a BCS bid. That will all depend on the development of the defense, which will have to hold its own against some powerful conference offenses, which are the true tests this fall - namely, Bowling Green and Northern Illinois.

In Gradkowski, head coach Tom Amstutz has an automatic success. The senior, who will compete with Bowling Green's Omar Jacobs for MAC-daddy status, will also bring much attention to the program, and either he or Jacobs will be in New York come December as a darkhorse favorite for the Heisman. But the winner of their head-on contest has the inside track in more ways than one, and we are likely to see these two back at it again for the conference title game. Gradkowski loses more playmakers than Jacobs loses, which gives G-ski a chance to prove his true ability. But these big, fast WRs won't be considered new for long once Bruce quickly breaks them in. And the more they run - which they do very well, too - the more wide open those receivers seem as opposing back sevens are then forced to cheat into the box. There will be no problems on this side of things as long as Gradkowski is upright and throwing.

It all comes back to that defense. It's unlikely that the returnees in the secondary will be drastically better than 2004's unit that was consistently burned. The pass rush will be a little better, and even that would give them some badly needed help. With such a comparably sized back-seven, look for new DC Tim Rose to take advantage of large DBs and cheat with them by turning nickel packages into run blitzes and vice versa, depending upon what foes show on offense. This will work, as will the DBs keeping the play in front of them, to effectively keep air TDs down (foes scored 27 times via passes; Gradkowski had 28 TDs, so you can see how well they were lit up). Rose will not bear scrutiny well when all fingers point to the new guy for problems that already exist. He could be one-and-done, but more likely head man Rob Spence respectably allows his schemes some time to take hold, so this could be a (painful) transition year on D this way, meaning that, as a team, any "next level" won't be seen in 2005.

Possibly the biggest obstacle to this team remaining on top in this conference is academic performance, which ranked a pathetic 114th out of 117 Division I-A schools and will likely result in the loss of scholarships in 2006. Since most players never see a single day in the NFL, graduating (or, in this case, even just passing) with a viable education is what their scholarship ultimately provides. Students who are just playing four year of "minor league ball" won't reflect the integrity of knowledge that is the backbone of any growth, either within a program or oneself. Knowledge is power, and the Toledo football program should stand behind its players to make sure it delivers this for them, too, not just wins, which they more than adequately do. Really, when these kids are 40, which will bring them more, that win 20 years ago or the education which provides for them (and their families)? But we digress back to football itself…

Championships are won with defense…that said, the Rockets will contend for the MAC with their amazing scoring machine Gradkowski, yet won't be able to make enough stops to win it. Just be sure to watch this team to maximize your weekly football viewing pleasure, for every game will be, at least, an exciting offensive display. Now, if they can just duplicate 1919's 6-0 win over Bowling Green…that's all he folks walking up Douglas Road to the Glass Bowl (and lot 9) really ask.

Projected 2005 record: 9-2
QB Bruce Gradkowski
QB - 4.5 DL - 3
RB - 3.5 LB - 3.5
WR - 2.5 DB - 2.5
OL - 3 ..

Passing: Bruce Gradkowski, 399-280-8, 3518 yds., 27 TD

Rushing: Scooter McDougle, 146 att., 620 yds., 7 TD

Receiving: Steve Odom, 53 rec., 675 yds., 5 TD

Scoring: Jason Robbins, 9-10 FG, 55-56 PAT, 82 pts.

Punting: Brett Kern, 44 punts, 40.6 avg.

Kicking: Jason Robbins, 9-10 FG, 55-56 PAT, 82 pts.

Tackles: Anthony Jordan, 107 tot., 49 solo

Sacks: Mike Alston, 5 sacks

Interceptions: Nigel Morris, 3 for 88 yds., 1 TD; Keon Jackson, 3 for 31 yds., 1 TD

Kickoff Returns: Steve Odom, 8 ret., 19.4 avg., 0 TD

Punt Returns: Steve Odom, 5 ret., 1.8 avg., 0 TD


OFFENSE: Lance Moore-WR, Terrance Hudson-WR, Kenny Higgins-WR, Chris Holmes-TE, Nick Kaczur-OT, David Odenthal-C
DEFENSE: Phil Alexander-DE, Michael Broussard-WHIP, Patrick Body-FS

The Rockets have one of the best QBs in both the nation and in school history with the return of senior Bruce Gradkowski. He's also one of the best in the nation, at least statistically, having finished fifth in Division I-A with a 162.6 QB rating and third with a 70.2 completion percentage. He was in the top 10 in every major category in '03, as well. Don't expect him to stumble now. Gradkowski's big, accurate arm is complemented by quick feet that ran for nine TDs. He's the total package, and he'll once again light up opposing secondaries, even with the departures of three of his top four targets. The only area we find that he can improve is the intangible of decision-making - he has a strong TD: INT ratio of 27:8, but obviously his potential says it can be better. Exciting redshirt soph Marques Council is an athletic, strong-armed backup who only lacks Gradkowski's experience and accuracy. After another year of waiting behind the superstar, he'll get his chance to shine so that he isn't totally raw when he takes over in '06.

Running Back
Look for improvement here as four quality RBs return eager to compete for carries behind such a strong line. The committee approach, which produced an adequate ground game that reflected efficiency (130 rushing first-downs and 26 ground scores) more than volume, will again balance well to set up the pass. But that is not literally their offensive philosophy, for they will take their 4.0 per attempt and continue to run it (54% or more) this way until stopped. Leading rusher Scooter McDougle, a junior, has fullback power, decent speed and good hands (fifth in receptions). Trinity Dawson, the former starter, is a smaller speedster who's 5.1 average shows why he is so trusted on the goal line (25 TDs in three seasons). No. 2 rusher Quinton Broussard is cut out of the same mold. Sophomore Jalen Parmele, who started the Motor City Bowl, is slightly bigger than Dawson and Broussard and just as fast. Despite their speed, Broussard, Dawson and Parmele aren't the receivers McDougle is. Toss in Gradkowski's fleet feet, and the ground game can effectively attack a defense from several angles. Fresh legs in the fourth quarter always help late-game clock management as well as all-important blitz pickup at those crucial junctures.

This area is a concern with the losses. That doesn't leave much experience for an offense that spreads defenses with three and four-receiver sets. Z-receiver Steve Odom, the only returning starter, is small, quick and always seems to get open, though we'll see now that his cast mates aren't there to distract. He should take over as the possession receiver. There's plenty of potential in the sophomore trio of David Washington, Nick Moore and Andrew Hawkins, but only four combined catches. Washington and Moore are tall, long-armed targets while Hawkins is this corps' lone little guy who will befuddle foes with his happy feet. The ample freshman talent also reflects the prototypical big-and-fast package desired, so this group goes (up to) three-deep with potential foes cannot ignore. How this group develops will be the biggest key to Toledo's season, aside from the secondary, and we expect there to be a relatively seamless transition - production here shouldn't wane. The only dilemmas here will be in matching and assigning roles for Gradkowski's preferences and/or the passing game's requirements. Fortunately for the Rockets, there's some time to gel with two relatively easy games to open.

Tight End
Josh Powell takes over, but his chances of being fourth on the team in receptions (like predecessor Holmes was) are nonexistent. He was a decent receiving target in high school, but newbie Keith Forstall's 4.6-second 40 speed will elevate him into a pass catching role while Powell stays home more. This is a thinned-out unit, but not a weakness with so many supporting areas that could compensate if needed (big receivers and/or svelte linemen are there to help, depending on the symptom needing to be cured).

Offensive Line
Besides Moore, the biggest spot to fill on this offense will be left tackle Nick Kaczur, who was the fourth four-time All-MAC pick in conference history. Look for 315-pound RS soph John Greco, an ex-prep roundballer (excellent footwork and vertical leap), to move over to the blindside. He'll join physical senior guard Chris Wakeman to form a big, athletic right side. Overall, six of the 10 linemen listed on the Motor City Bowl two-deep are back, so this line shouldn't have to rebuild to the extent that it did last fall. That's a good thing for a group that allowed just 19 sacks and will again block effectively for all ground efforts. Gradkowski's ability to work with/around these linemen will be a quick study. Even without Kaczur, numbers here should be a little better.

Even with the loss of keys like Moore and Kaczur, as well as offensive coordinator Rob Moore, don't expect any significant dropoff. Well-prepared receivers coach John Shannon moves to the coordinator role and will keep the spread system intact. Once the receivers and offensive linemen settle into their roles, this offense should be among the MAC's top three and one of the nation's best. Maintaining (running) balance is all they have to continue, for Gradkowski will guarantee the rest. A more experienced backfield, led by a healthy McDougle, will be the key so ball-control and time-management can work for and not against them (like Texas Tech now or BSU from two years ago). Once this offense starts clicking, which shouldn't take long, it will be too strong, coming from too many dimensions, for any foe to stop entirely. Pick your poison with these guys.


WR Steve Odom


Returning Starters/
Key Players
QB Bruce Gradkowski-Sr (6-2, 210) Marques Council-So (6-3, 194)
RB Trinity Dawson-Sr (5-10, 195) Scooter McDougle-Jr (6-1, 220)
Jalen Parmele-So (6-0, 210)
WR Trumaine Smith-Fr (6-3, 180) David Washington-So (6-5, 220)
WR Steve Odom-Jr (5-10, 165) Andre Redd-Fr (5-11, 185)
WR Andrew Hawkins-So (5-8, 165) Pete Lepley-Sr (6-1, 200)
TE Andrew Clarke-Sr (6-4, 249) Josh Powell-Jr (6-5, 240)
OT John Greco-So (6-5, 315) Sean Zabinski-Fr (6-7, 290)
OG David Perkins-So (6-2, 290) Patrick Dawson-Fr (6-3, 300)
C Hassan Adebesin-Jr (6-2, 292) Andrew Decker-Fr (6-3, 270)
OG Chris Wakeman-Sr (6-5, 290) Jesse Anderson-Jr (6-5, 285)
OT Jerry Aguwa-Jr (6-5, 290) Greg Luna-Jr (6-7, 318)
K Jason Robbins-Sr (5-10, 158) ..

Pete Lepley 6-1 200 Sr.


Defensive Line
This line's marginal pass rush should improve as this young group is a year older. Maintaining a solid rotation shouldn't be a problem with so much talent back. The DEs are adequate run-stoppers, and Seth Thitoff is their leader, though youngsters Bernard Faithful, Sean Williamson and Shaun Fitzgibbons have yet to develop into standouts. Faithful seems to have the starter's position, but strength in numbers is the approach here. The strength is in the middle, where beefy redshirt soph Tyree Pollard is all-conference material. Pollard will require two hats to contain his prowess, or else. His counterpart, junior J.P. Bekasiak, is smaller, quicker and only slightly less effective at getting penetration and tying up blockers. Backup DTs Alfred Martin and Andre Bouldin are too good to keep off the field. This group has the depth to keep coming at you for four quarters, but it needs a consistent pass-rusher to step up, especially with a beleaguered secondary in need of help. Last season's growing pains will pay off here as this experienced, sophomore/junior-laden unit will significantly reduce foes' 21 running TDs and 4.0 per carry clip.

Both inside guys return for veteran coach Tim Rose, the new defensive coordinator. This unit improved a little last fall, and should be better yet in '05. Former DE Anthony Jordan has turned into an aggressive tackling machine who we'll see improve his pass coverage, while David Thomas (not the SCTV stars namesake) has beefed up in recent seasons while maintaining his quickness to make plays all over the place. Well-sized Jordan and Thomas are fine in the middle, but the key will be getting a playmaker at WHIP. Rodney Gamby, a quick-hitting junior, has the physical tools to be that player. Backup ILB Mike Alston, another fast little guy, turned into this team's best pass-rusher and should see more time, especially in third-and-long situations. With all the speed here, there's no excuse for these guys not to be stronger in pass coverage. And with a more mature front four, they should be free to make more plays against the run. But the size issues in the wanna-be's are of marginal concern when contemplating those major early foes, though Toledo matches up well against both Kansas and Minnesota.

Defensive Back
Rose will spend the majority of his time working to improve this area, which has struggled mightily against the high-flying offenses of the MAC. Three starters are back in rover Keon Jackson and corners Antonio Malone and Nigel Morris, but expect some serious changes (the six DBs in the latest recruiting class will see ample real-game reps). Morris seems solid, but Malone needs more work in coverages. Jackson plays like a LB in pass coverage, so Rose might want to re-think how he disseminates Jackson's well-balanced talent. Malone is a big, physical player who would be better at the vacated free safety spot. Again, the first few games should be a relatively light load, so there's time for this group to solidify by the start of conference play. The youthful injection we spoke of above won't be dwarfed by big WRs, but there are not many with sub-4.5-second 40 speed, so technique will have to overcome this lacking raw ability. It's hard to imagine this secondary being much worse. Even as a mid-major, this will never be an elite team with the 113th-ranked pass defense, so expect the off-season focus here to pay off by mid-season. Practicing against Gradkowski can be demoralizing…but they have to realize, that if they can even partially stop him, they will be able to compete with any foe.

This team finished 9-4 and won the MAC with one of the nation's worst pass defenses, but it had to win shootouts against Miami and Bowling Green to do so. They will not have that much luck again with most MAC offenses expected to improve. Run defense should be sound, but only because foes will continue to pass until the secondary proves they shouldn't. Rose will eventually find the right secondary combo to initiate improvements among his returning personnel, but that could take too long with so many new guys to check out. Size issues in the LBs make them seem like DBs, so we'll see if Rose can interchangeably make the back-seven more effective.


DB Keon Jackson


Returning Starters/
Key Players
DE Sean Williamson-So (6-2, 287) Nick Lawrence- So (6-2, 225)
Seth Thitoff-Jr (6-2, 225)
DT Tyree Pollard-So (6-4, 310) Alfred Martin-So (6-5, 255)
DE J.P. Bekasiak-Jr (6-5, 272) Bernard Faithful-So (6-3, 225)
OLB Mike Alston-Jr (6-2, 205) De'Veon Harris-Fr (6-0, 200)
ILB Anthony Jordan-Sr (6-3, 230) Marques McFarlin-So (6-2, 226)
ILB David Thomas-Sr (6-2, 230) Shaun Fitzgibbons-So (6-0, 218)
OLB Steven Morrison-So (6-2, 200) Mike Chamberlain-Jr (6-2, 196)
CB Nigel Morris-So (6-0, 164) Bo Martin-Jr (6-1, 198)
CB Antonio Malone-Sr (6-1, 186) Jason Flowers-Sr (6-0, 174)
ROV Keon Jackson-Sr (5-11, 206) Greg Hay-So (6-2, 215)
FS Tyrell Herbert-So (6-2, 180) Brandon Alexander-So (6-1, 180)
P Brett Kern-So (6-3, 185) ..




This spot is almost automatic with senior Jason Robbins returning. The offense rarely had to settle for a field goal, but when it did, Robbins was 9-of-10. He doesn't have a huge leg, though, with his career-long a 40-yarder, so expect plenty of pooch punts from Kern. Kickoffs, handled by soph Mike Krispinsky, are a plus as this team ranked 11th in the nation in coverage.

Sophomore Brett Kern did a nice job as a frosh, dropping 12 punts inside the 20. He had two kicks blocked, so he'll have to be a little quicker. But, overall, he's a solid young punter who should improve. Coverage, which was average and allowed a TD, needs to match kickoff coverage. With more team speed and a more experienced punter, it should.

Return Game
Odom, who handled several kicks and punts last fall, is the most likely candidate to take over. Jalen Parmele also got a look, but Nigel Morris and Andrew Hawkins have been mentioned as possibilities. All are capable ball handlers from prep, so we will have to watch and wonder until an actual punt and/or kick is coming down before we'll actually know who is to get the most looks.