Toledo Rockets

PHILADELPHIA, PA - SEPTEMBER 02: Temple live mascot Stella the Owl is seen prior to the game between the Army Black Knights and Temple Owls at Lincoln Financial Field on September 2, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
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Geoff Collins puts finishing touches on first Temple staff

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A little over four weeks after landing his first head-coaching job, Geoff Collins has completed his first coaching staff.

Temple announced Thursday that Collins has made three additions to his initial staff: Tony Lucas, Cory Robinson and Andrew Thacker.  Lucas will serve as running backs coach, Robinson defensive backs and Thacker linebackers.

Lucas and Thacker join the AAC program from the FCS level.  The former had spent the past four seasons at Delaware State, the latter was at Kennesaw State for the 2016 season.

Robinson served in the same capacity at Toledo this past season.

With the trio of hires, Collins’ nine-man on-field coaching staff is full.  The coach had previously brought in Dave Patenaude (offensive coordinator/quarterbacks), Taver Johnson (defensive coordinator/safeties), and Jim Panagos (defensive line) from outside the program.  In late December, it was announced that Collins had retained three coaches from Matt Rhule‘s staff: Ed Foley (tight ends), Frisman Jackson (wide receivers) and Chris Wiesehan (offensive line).

Report: Wazzu pulls WRs coach away from Toledo

TEMPE, AZ - NOVEMBER 22:  Head coach Mike Leach of the Washington State Cougars talks with his team on the sidelines during the college football game against the Arizona State Sun Devils at Sun Devil Stadium on November 22, 2014 in Tempe, Arizona. The Sun Devils defeated the Cougars 52-31.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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Toledo wide receivers coach Derek Sage is leaving the staff to accept a similar post at Washington State, multiple outlets have reported.

Sage spent three seasons tutoring wideouts at Toledo and helped turn the Rockets’ passing attack into one of the best in the Group of 5. Toledo tied for eighth nationally in passing at 322.8 yards per game this fall, and Cody Thompson and Corey Jones both finished among the top 100 receivers nationally. Thompson collected 64 receptions for 1,269 yards and 11 touchdowns, while Jones grabbed 66 balls for 817 yards and five scores.

Thompson was a First Team All-MAC honoree, while Jon'Vea Johnson earned a Second Team All-MAC nod. Sage himself was a finalist for the FootballScoop Wide Receivers Coach of the Year award. (Full disclosure: I also write for FootballScoop.)

Sage will coach inside receivers at Washington State, where he takes over for JaMarcus Shephard. Shephard left earlier this month to join Jeff Brohm‘s staff at Purdue.

 

Appalachian State claims second straight Camellia Bowl thriller

Appalachian State quarterback Taylor Lamb (11) is upended after a big gain by Toledo cornerback Trevon Mathis (6) during the Cramton Bowl NCAA college football game in Montgomery, Ala., Saturday, Dec. 17, 2016. (Mickey Welsh/The Montgomery Advertiser via AP)
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If the College Football Playoff games can be half as good as the Camellia Bowl, we’ll be in good hands this bowl season.

For the second consecutive December, Appalachian State won a back-and-forth Camellia Bowl, backing up last year’s buzzer-beating 31-29 defeat of Ohio with a 31-28 see-saw win over Toledo on Saturday night.

In what would be the theme all night, the Mountaineers opened the scoring on a 72-yard drive capped by a 16-yard scoring strike from Taylor Lamb to Deltron Hopkins only to see Toledo immediately answer when Logan Woodside found Michael Roberts for a 15-yard score to end a 75-yard march.

Midway through the second quarter, Marcus Cox put App State back in front when he punched in a 13-yard rush to close a 93-yard march, which Kareem Hunt later answered by way of a 26-yard rush to tie the game at 14 at the break.

App State again opened the scoring in the second half, this time a 13-yard Lamb rush, and Toledo again answered on a 4-yard toss from Woodside to Cody Thompson. Appalachian State immediately nudged back in front when Darrynton Evans raced the ensuing kickoff 94 yards for a touchdown to give the Mountaineers a 28-21 lead. Five plays later, Toledo knotted its fourth tie when Hunt found pay dirt for a second time with a 1-yard plunge with 43 ticks left in the third quarter.

The Mountaineers blew a scoring chance on their next possession when a fake field goal pass on a 4th-and-13 flew incomplete, but the App State defense held serve by forcing a three-and-out. Back in field goal range a second time, App State head coach Scott Satterfield made the sensible call by asking Michael Rubino to knock in a 39-yard field goal, which he did, giving the Mountaineers a 31-28 lead with 5:14 remaining.

Given a chance to break serve and take their first lead, Toledo could not convert a 3rd-and-2 rush from the App State 8-yard line. Rockets head coach Jason Candle briefly looked like he was going to try a make-or-break 4th-and-2 with the clock rolling under two minutes to go but accepted a delay of game instead. He will live to regret that decision; Jameson Vest‘s game-tying 30-yard field goal sailed wide right.

Appalachian State (10-3) accepted the ball with 1:42 remaining and did not give it back. The Mountaineers out-rushed Toledo (9-4) 297-127 on the night. Lamb carried nine times for 126 yards and a score while completing 14-of-32 throws for 119 yards and a touchdown. Cox rushed 22 times for a game-high 143 yards and a touchdown.

For Toledo, Woodside completed 18-of-26 passes for 247 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions, while Hunt added 22 carries for 120 yards and two scores.

Toledo, App State deadlocked halfway through Camellia Bowl

CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 09:  Logan Woodside #11 of the Toledo Rockets looks for a receiver against the Northern Illinois Huskies at Guaranteed Rate  Field, home of the Chicago White Sox, on November 9, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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Toledo and Appalachian State are tied at 14-14 halfway through the Camellia Bowl.

In a see-saw affair, App State has taken two touchdown leads only to see Toledo tie the game each time. Taylor Lamb has hit 9-of-21 for 81 yards and a touchdown with four carries for 52 yards, while Marcus Cox has rushed 13 times for 90 yards and a score.

For Toledo, Logan Woodside is an efficient 10-of-13 for 130 yards and a score, while Kareem Hunt has carried 10 times for 42 yards and a touchdown. He is the only play to rush the ball for Toledo thus far.

Appalachian State will receive to open the second half.

 

CFT Previews: Your Dec. 17 Bowl Viewer’s Guide

San Diego State's Donnel Pumphrey holds the Mountain West Conference trophy after San Diego State defeated Wyoming 27-24 in an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2016, in Laramie, Wyo. (AP Photo/Michael Smith)
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Taking a quick-hit look at the Dec. 17 bowl menu, which on opening weekend features five FBS bowl games as the 2016 postseason officially kicks off.  The featured teams include four that won nine games in the 12-game regular season, one undisputed conference champion, a conference co-champ and one that thought it would still be in the midst of prepping for a New Year’s Six game — or even a playoff semifinal.

WHO: New Mexico (8-4) vs. UT-San Antonio (6-6)
WHAT: The 11th Gildan New Mexico Bowl
WHERE: University Stadium, Albuquerque, New Mexico
WHEN: 2 p.m. ET on ESPN
THE SKINNY: Based on the circumstances surrounding the very first FBS bowl game of the 2016-17 postseason cycle, I’m really surprised the line is merely a touchdown.  New Mexico far and away leads the nation in rushing at 360.9 yards per game — Army is No. 2 at 327. 8 — and feature a pair of 1,000-yard rushers who each average more than eight yards per carry, although UTSA is a respectable 52nd at stopping the run (157.8 ypg).  The Lobos are playing on their home turf as well, and will be looking for just their second bowl win since 1961; the Roadrunners, meanwhile, will be looking for their first-ever bowl win as they’re in the FBS postseason for the first time.  New Mexico closed out the season winning six of its last seven, including an impressive win over Mountain division champion Wyoming, and, given all they have going for them, there’s little reason to think UTSA will make its first bowl appearance its first win as well.
THE LINE:UT-San Antonio, +7
THE PREDICTION: New Mexico 39, UT-San Antonio 24

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WHO: Houston (9-3) vs. San Diego State (10-3)
WHAT: The 25th Las Vegas Bowl Presented by Geico
WHERE: Sam Boyd Stadium, Whitney, Nevada
WHEN: 3:30 p.m. ET on ABC
THE LINE: San Diego State, +4
For the remainder of an extended preview, click HERE.

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WHO: Appalachian State (9-3) vs. Toledo (9-3)
WHAT: The 3rd Raycom Media Camellia Bowl
WHERE: Cramton Bowl, Montgomery, Alabama
WHEN: 5:30 p.m. ET on ESPN
THE SKINNY: It’s not often you get one matchup of 9-3 regular-season teams on opening day of the college football postseason let alone two (San Diego State was 9-3 prior to their MWC title game win), yet here we are.  Both teams can run the ball, as each averages over 200 yards per game on the ground.  What sets the Rockets apart in this matchup is they are eighth nationally in passing yards; the Mountaineers, meanwhile, are 104th.  App State, one of the Sun Belt’s co-champs, is relatively stingy in that area defensively, ranking 29th in passing yards allowed (200.2 per game).  As mentioned, ASU was a co-champ of the SBC, along with Arkansas State.  The Rockets opened the season with a 31-10 win over… the Red Wolves.  There have been two Camellia Bowls previously, and they were decided by a combined seven points.  Last year’s winner?  App State, which beat a team from the MAC on a last-second field goal for its first FBS bowl win.  UT, meanwhile, will be looking to push its bowl winning streak to three straight, which would be the football program’s longest since it won four in a row between 1969-81.
THE LINE: Appalachian State, +1½
THE PREDICTION: Toledo 34, Appalachian State 31

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WHO: UCF (6-6) vs. Arkansas State (7-5)
WHAT: The 2nd AutoNation Cure Bowl
WHERE: Camping World Stadium, Orlando, Florida
WHEN: 5:30 p.m. ET on CBS Sports Network
THE SKINNY: Arkansas State began the season with four-game losing streak that put its five-year bowl appearance streak in jeopardy before righting the ship by winning seven of the last eight.  UCF, on the other hand, lost its last two games, by at least 15 points each no less.  The Knights are coming off a winless 2015 campaign, so the job Scott Frost has done just getting the AAC team into the postseason is borderline miraculous and should earn him votes in the myriad Coach of the Year awards.  Part of the miracle can be attributed to the defense, specifically UCF’s third-down defense — the Knights were seventh nationally in allowing less than 30 percent of the opposition’s third downs to be converted into first downs.  The noteworthy teams ahead of them?  Michigan, Wisconsin, Virginia Tech, Alabama and Clemson.  The fact that this will essentially serve as a home game for UCF also tilts the odds in their favor, with the university’s campus less than a half-hour from the stadium where they’ll call home Saturday.  In trying to steal a “road” win, ASU will looking to keep its bowl losing streak from reaching three in a row.
THE LINE: Arkansas State, +6
THE PREDICTION: UCF 26, Arkansas State 17

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WHO: Southern Miss (6-6) vs. Louisiana-Lafayette (6-6)
WHAT: The 16th R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl
WHERE: Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans, Louisiana
WHEN: 9 p.m. ET on ESPN
THE SKINNY: Between 2011 and 2014, Louisiana-Lafayette played in and won four consecutive New Orleans Bowls.  After missing the 2015 installment of the game, UL-L is back in its own backyard.  Then again, Hattiesburg is about 25 miles closer to New Orleans than Lafayette, so the Golden Eagles will be in their backyard as well.  After a strong 4-1 start to the year that included a season-opening win over bowl-bound Kentucky in Lexington, USM stumbled its way to a 2-5 finish in barely clinging to bowl eligibility.  Their opponents haven’t exactly been lights out coming down the stretch, although the 3-2 close of the regular season did get the Ragin’ Cajuns into the postseason after a one-year sabbatical.  Are you getting the feeling I’m reaching for things to write about here?  You’re right, which usually means this’ll end up being one of the best and most exciting bowl games of the year.  That’s normally how these things work.
THE LINE: Louisiana-Lafayette, +4½
THE PREDICTION: Louisiana-Lafayette 24, Southern Miss 23