To add injury to insult, in the process of getting destroyed by Western Michigan, Starting Toledo QB Aaron Opelt was out of the game before the end of the first half. I took note of this right away, as the WMU announcers on the radio were still in awe of how good the Broncos were performing. At that point, it really didn't matter who Toledo tossed out there to hike the ball facing a 6-34 deficit. Could Beckman have given up on the game that early? I immediately dismissed that thought, because UT's offense is efficient enough to make such a comeback.
So out went Opelt in the middle of the 2nd quarter right after Toledo's 2nd timeout and in came true freshman Austin Dantin. Dantin would perform well against WMU's 2nd string D going 17 of 28 for 160 yds and 3 TDs and showed a good amount of mobility in the pocket. That mobility could easily be mistaken or displaced as happy feet in just his first snaps ever taken in a game. Even elusive WR Eric Page got some reps at QB in the WILD ROCKET formation. Eventually it was announced that Opelt was in a sling on the sidelines.
Mr. Opelt is the conductor of Toledo's newly-minted and already vaunted spread offense attack that currently is ranked Top-10 in the nation. The quarterback himself is 6th in the nation in total offense, having passed for 1,784 yds including a 14-5 TD to INT ratio. He's even rushed for 141 yds and 3 scores so far.
So what is Aaron Opelt's status for Saturday?
According to the Toledo Blade, an MRI Monday revealed that there was no structural damage to his right throwing arm.
Opelt is "day-to-day" with a bruised right shoulder, and Beckman said he is "probable" to play against Northern Illinois this weekend.
Then Fox Toledo goes ahead and drops this bombshell:
TOLEDO, Ohio - Sources close to the situation say UT quarterback Aaron Opelt is unlikely to play this Saturday against Northern Illinois due to an injury to his throwing shoulder. Publicly, the Rockets beg to differ.
Sources? What kind of sources?
So your guess is as good as mine. Opelt is any number of these:
- unlikely to play
There still is no line on this game for Saturday, so Vegas isn't sure either. On one end of the spectrum you've got a 4-year starter that's a little banged up in Opelt and then you've got a green true freshman in Dantin that just picked up his first stats ever in garbage time. Quite the extremes.
Here's Coach Kill's take on the whole situation:
NIU coach Jerry Kill said no matter which quarterback plays for the Rockets, it shouldn't have too much of an effect on the MAC's highest-scoring offense. But seeing a few quarters of film on Dantin wasn't a bad thing.
"I think it helps you a little bit," Kill said. "But at the same time they're going to do what they do. They have a very unique system, one they do very well offensively, very similar to what Oklahoma State does. I think no matter who is standing back there, they're going to be productive in what they do.
"I don't think you stop them. I think you've just got to slow them down a little bit."
I have to agree with Kill in this situation. Either way, the Rockets have a ton of good skill players to toss the ball around to. In fact, I'm a little bit more scared of the unknown we might face if the starter is unable to go. Toledo is Toledo and nothing can change that fact.
How much do you think this injury could possibly affect the Rockets when they take on the Huskies this Saturday?