Editor’s note: First of a 12-part series on Kentucky opponents this season.
GAME 1: Toledo at Kentucky, noon, Saturday, Aug. 31, at Kroger Field, SEC Network
SERIES: First meeting.
COACH: Jason Candle, fourth season. Record at school: 28-13.
LOOKING BACK: Toledo compiled a 7-6 record and went 5-3 in the Mid-American conference. The Rockets dropped a 35-32 loss to Florida International in the Bahamas Bowl, continuing a streak of eight consecutive postseason appearances. Toledo has compiled a winning record for nine straight years.
LOOKING AHEAD: The Rockets lost their top three receivers to graduation, but return a solid nucleus from an offense that led the MAC in scoring with an average of 40.4 points per game last year. Toledo scored 50 point or more in six games last year and quarterback Mitchell Guadagni is back for his senior season. Guadagni threw for 1,053 yards and 13 touchdowns. Eli Peters made six starts in the pocket and threw for 1837 yards and 18 scores.
Also returning are running backs Bryant Koback and Shakif Seymore. Koback, who transferred to Toledo from Kentucky, rushed for 917 yards and 14 touchdowns last season. The top target on the receiving end is expected to be Desmond Phillips, who made 27 receptions last season.
On defense, the Rockets struggled, giving up an average of 423.3 yards and 30.5 points per game. The biggest issue was in the secondary, where Toledo surrendered 255.1 yards per contest. Overall, Toledo returns 14 starters from a year ago, including All-MAC performers Reggie Gilliam (tight end) and center Bryce Harris.
CONFERENCE: The Rockets are a preseason pick to win the MAC West.
COACH QUOTE: “Where you start doesn’t have any indication of where you’ll finish,” Candle said. “The goal is to be one of the last teams standing and make it back here to Ford Field in December. That being said, it’s good that our players have that validation for the hard work they’ve put in during the offseason.”