It's hard to sift through all the coach-speak and the message board babble to find out what the real problems with this team are. There are certain things that not even the coaches have control of at this point.
Let's face it, the Toledo Rockets simply had more to play for on Saturday. They were already behind the 8-ball having already one conference loss after getting blown out by Western Michigan on their homecoming nonetheless. Just a flat-out embarrassing performance the week before, the Rockets had to dig deep and find a victory this week. Somehow, someway they achieved this goal.
Let's also not forget last year when we embarrassed the Rockets 38-7 on our own homecoming. That victory combined with the 58-26 drubbing by the Broncos the week before gave Toledo the mental advantage.
But the Huskies had 2 weeks to prepare for Toledo!
Again, a very valid point being brought up by a lot of fans. We had the bye week and we took advantage of it to get ourselves healthy to play. We weren't in a rhythm with all the time off, that was apparent. It's just so much different going against an opponent than your own guys. Another thing that hurt slightly was that the WMU game was such a huge blowout and it wasn't even close. I mean there were a couple things here and there to look at, but it wasn't something like a close or ugly win that you can build off of. Here, let me simplify things
Toledo's blowout loss vs WMU + Revenge for last year's blowout loss vs NIU + NIU's blowout win over WMU + bye week = 19-20 loss for the Huskies.
This team is manic depressive. When is it going to stop? W vs Purdue, L vs Idaho, W vs WMU, L vs Toledo Here's to things smoothing out after this. ESPN's Pat Forde calls us one of the most dramatic teams in the nation with the likes of Notre Dame & Washington.
Mood swings are not fun and they happen with young teams. Our team is extremely young and we can't change the fact that they will be having letdowns from big wins and look off after bye weeks. We only have 14 seniors, 5 of which see significant playing time. And our kicker, who nobody seems to want to block for. This is only going to be an excuse for this year, but as teams get more experienced, these types of up and down swings tends to lessen. Combined with a bunch of freshmen running around is the fact that this team just isn't there in talent level yet to overcome any dips in playing sloppy. This team needs to start playing awake every single game, because there is no margin for error now.
Keep in mind that Coach Kill's first real recruiting class are all true freshman right now!
Talent Differential & Play-calling
Toledo is not a bad team by any stretch of the word, offensively. Sure they had a true freshman at the reigns with Austin Dantin, and he did great before going out of the game with an ankle injury. Even the 3rd stringer Alex Pettee is pretty good as well, a JUCO transfer out of California. The QB is part of a system at Toledo, and he has got a great offensive line and an array of super-talented in fellow freshman Eric Page and Stephen Williams. As Phil Steele points out, the loss would have been by a much larger margin had the Huskies not forced three separate turnovers on defense.
Toledo's defense is not that great. They're the worst in the MAC, but we made them look like the best. Part of this has to do with our ignorant offensive playcalling. We just can't continue to be stubborn just running the ball when there are opportunities in the passing game. Even John Bond of all people would just throw out his playbook occasionally and start launching the ball over the field. UT had two freshmen at the CB positions and we did not take advantage of that fact.
We didn't account for Barry Church at all. Sure he's their best player, but if we isolate him enough then it shouldn't have been a problem on the offensive side of things. But we let him get to us and that proved to be our downfall.
These definitely killed the momentum multiple times. The Huskies finished with 9 yellow flags for 67 yds.
1Q 3:02, 1D and 10: Chad Spann rush for no gain, Reed Cunningham 10 yd holding penalty. 1st and 20. Just digging ourselves in to a hole here. After that, Eric Page has a 41 yd punt return to the NIU 32, setting up a Rocket TD.
3Q 4:46: Perez Ashford gets called for holding and then Marcus Lewis gets called for a substitution infraction. 2nd and 18 and we don't convert.