It is football time in the Bluegrass!!! I don’t know about you, but I feel like I’ve waited a very, very long time to finally say/hear that phrase. That being said, it is early and it is GAMEDAY so let’s dive right in to a breakdown of Kentucky’s first opponent of the 2019 Season: the University of Toledo Rockets.
1) Head Coach Jason Candle is a Winner
- Entering his 4th season as the head man of the Rockets, Coach Candle has collected an impressive 28-13 record. After winning a MAC Championship in 2017, last season Toledo took a step back finishing 7-6. However, Candle has continued to recruit at a high level bringing in the highest rated recruiting class in the MAC each year he has been at the helm. His winning ways go back further than just the success he has had a Toledo as well. Anyone who knows anything about Division III football is aware of the dominance of Mount Union. Well, Jason Candle not only was a 4-year player there, but was also a part of the coaching staff for 4 National Championships before joining the Toledo staff as the Slot Receivers/Tight Ends Coach in 2009.
2) 5th-Year Senior Quarterback Mitchell Guadagni Returns From Injury
- After going down late in the 2nd Quarter against Fresno St. with a concussion last season, QB1 Mitchell Guadagni is back and ready to take the reigns of the high-powered Rockets offense. Guadagni missed the next game, then returned only to suffer a broken collarbone against Western Michigan which sidelined him for the rest of the season. Eli Peters was called upon to fill in and was able to lead the 2nd best offensive unit in the MAC. Prior to his season ending injury, Guadagni, a Dual-Threat Quarterback, was leading the MAC in Passing Efficiency. He was 69/126 for just over 1000 yards and 13 touchdowns. On the ground, Guadagni added 428 yards and 3 scores. Of the games he played in, he led Toledo in rushing 4 times.
3) Bryant Koback is a Very Good Running Back
- Does that name ring a bell? It may, because Koback spent his first season on the sidelines for your Kentucky Wildcats (he did not receive any playing time). The Redshirt Sophomore burst onto the scene last season after arriving in Toledo rushing for 917 yards and 14 touchdowns. One of the MAC’s top rushing threats, Koback averaged 6 yards per carry a season ago. He enters this season on the Doak Walker Award list given annually to the nation’s top RB and will surely have a little extra juice playing against his former team.
4) Offensive Line Questions
- This is a position group that gave up 30 sacks and 80 tackles for loss last season and also lost 3 starters. In addition, one of the returners will be playing out-of-position as Junior Luke Doerger will be asked to slide over from Guard to Center filling in for Senior Bryce Harris who will miss the season due to a knee injury. The Rockets will rely on the legs of Quarterback Mitchell Guadagni to keep some plays alive. The defensive line of Kentucky should be able to win the battle of the trenches consistently this afternoon.
5) Shaky Defensive Secondary
- We all know that there are plenty of question marks in the Kentucky secondary as the position group enters the 2019 season essentially as an unknown. However, across the field this afternoon will be another Secondary that has some questions to answer. Last season the Rockets were not good against the pass and lost 6 starters. The bright spot is that they do return their top CB Justin Clarke and Senior Safety Khalil Robinson who was second on the team in tackles. Unlike the new faces at the position for Kentucky, at least Toledo will have some experience, though that experience didn’t exactly perform well last season.
Let’s play the game!!!