MUNCIE, Ind. – Seen the numbers from Toledo’s 58-17 stampede past Ball State Thursday night? They defy the laws of football physics.
By the end of the third period, the Rockets’ time of possession was less than 15 of the 45 minutes, they had more penalties and turnovers and the same number of first downs . . . and led 51-17.
Quarterback Logan Woodside had completed only eight passes the entire night...for 267 yards.
The Rockets ran only seven plays the third quarter and owned the ball for 112 seconds...and scored four touchdowns.
“Weird quarter,” coach Jason Candle said afterward.
But impressive to watch, right?
“It was equally unimpressive to watch how we played in the first half.”
Oh, well. Toledo is 7-1 and deserves some attention, for several reasons.
No. 1, the Rockets are an entertaining incendiary device, having scored 13 touchdowns this season of 40 or more yards, and nine of 60 or more. Thursday, their scoring lightning strikes included passes for 67 and 88 yards, a punt return for 87, and runs for 71 and 63. Plus, there was a 73-yard run that went out of bounds at the 2. They had scoring drive times of 42, 46, 13, 13 and 47 seconds.
What gives, besides an exceptionally leaky Ball State defense?
“We’ve got fast guys that can make good coaches out of people,” Candle said. “They can score the ball in a lot of different ways, from wherever they touch it on the field. Also, having a senior quarterback in his fifth year who’s really comfortable in the offense, knows the scheme and knows where his 1-on-1’s are.
“Once you get it in your hands, it’s about what you can do with it. I’ve love to sit here and tell you I taught them all that, but that’s just raw natural ability.”
Which brings us to the No. 2 reason: Graduate student and rarely-make-a-mistake quarterback Logan Woodside. Name doesn’t ring a bell? It should. He – not any of the power conference gunslingers -- led the nation in touchdown passes last season with 45, even if lots of people didn’t notice. It has left him decidedly unfazed.
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“If anything, it makes me prepare and want to play harder, which is a good thing,” he said. “I haven’t even really thought about it. Maybe down the road later in my life I’ll look back and it’ll mean something, but the reality is, we lost our last two football games. I wish I could get those back.”
His touchdown pass numbers are down a tad this season, but consider the 62.9 percent completion rate, and 9-2 touchdown-interception ratio.
“For him to come into the season and think he needed to duplicate what he was able to do last year and that was going to define whether we had a good season or not, I don’t think that’s fair to him or, really, our football team,” Candle said. “We need him to play at a high level with the things we’ve always asked him to do, which is to be accurate with the ball and make great decisions.”
Also just continue to make sure the other 10 guys around you are impacted by your level of play. All the great quarterbacks that I’ve ever watched on TV or been around or coached, they all had that ability. He has that.”And No. 3, there’s the Toledo record. It’s lively. The Rockets came from 28-7 down to beat Tulsa 54-51 on a walk-off field goal. They crunched MAC East division co-leader Akron 48-21 with five Woodside touchdown passes. The loss wasn’t bad, either; going to Miami to lead the unbeaten Hurricanes at halftime and trailing 38-30 in the fourth quarter before falling back at the end 52-30. Woodside passed for 342 yards.
“When you get punched in the mouth and taste your own a blood a little bit, you’ve got two ways you can go,” Candle said. “You can go back to your corner and wait for the fight to be blown dead, or you can keep going back out there and keep fighting. There’s a lot of fight in that locker room.
“When you get to this point of the season, I think that’s just as critical and important as anything. Can you play harder for longer?”
The Toledo defense had to do that at Ball State. The offense wasn’t on the field that long.