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Tuesday lunch: Stopping the Rockets launch edition

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One glance at the scores during Toledo's six-game win streak makes it abundantly clear what the popular topic would be at Tuesday's Bearcats football luncheon.

How do you stop this Rockets offense? They enter averaging 36.4 points and 475 yards per game.

"You add everything in, physicality, their skill-set of their players, their scheme, they keep you on your toes because they give you a little something different every week," Butch Jones said. "Hands down, this will be the biggest test we've had from a defensive standpoint."


The numbers back up Jones' analysis. Toledo enters ranked 26th in the country in total offense and tied for 30th in scoring offense. Jones states that this will be the most difficult defensive test to date, but an argument could be made it will be the toughest all season.

No UC opponent ranks as high in total offense or scoring offense as the Rockets. Now, the level of competition between Toledo and, say, Louisville the following week doesn't compare so the stats are all relative, but make no mistake, few score it as much as these guys.

"We come in with a mindset we are going to have to score some points," Jones said. "It's going to challenge our overall discipline as a football team. How are we going to respond? They are going to get their points. That is the nature of their offense. How do we respond?"

To this point, the Bearcats have responded well. Despite both Miami and Fordham enjoying success through the first few drives, UC ended up shutting down the gameplan as the wins progressed.

After giving up 14 first-half points against Miami, the Bearcats defense pitched a second-half shutout. For S Drew Frey, who Jones confirmed will play this week after missing the Fordham game with an injury, the experience of the Victory Bell game could pay off Saturday.
 
RockyRockets.jpg"They are going to spread you out, similar to Miami style," Frey said. "Lot of empty, but they are going to take you vertically, too. We just have to really lock into our keys and identify things on the move ... You don't play good defense you are gong to get scored on. We want to be consistent, we want to eliminate mental errors, we want to play together as a team and do what we always do, run hard to the ball. We do that and stay locked in, we'll be all right."

They may be all right, but a chance exists they could find themselves in a shootout. Considering the Rockets rank 116th of 124 FBS teams in passing defense, Munchie Legaux likes his chances to keep up.

The key will be avoiding the interception since Toledo picked off its opponent 10 times this year. Of course, that's their best shot since they haven't been big fans of actually forcing punts.

Still, the pressure amps up on offense as well in a game of this fashion to post touchdowns every possession when the opponent shows a propensity to do the same.

"A team like this, every play counts," Legaux said. "We don't want to take any drives off. We don't want to have any three-and-out situations. We don't want to put our defense in any tough situations."

--- Thanks to the magic of Twitter, Toledo's confident trash talk registered inside the Lindner Center on Tuesday. Jones and his players pointed out they've seen a tweet from a Toledo football player claiming that their fans are going to storm the field when they beat Cincinnati.

Needless to say, that found its way to a bulletin board in the Bearcats locker room.

"We don't look at all that, we are going in to play our game, it's going to be a hostile environment," Legaux said. "We aren't going to take those guys lightly. They are going to get out 'A' game."


--- On top of confirming Frey would play against Toledo, Jones also said WR Anthony McClung will return against the Rockets.

--- As for the reviews of the Fordham game, Jones thought the team improved on offense, particularly on third down. UC finished 7 of 11 on third down. The 63 percent conversion rate was the best in any game this year.

Jones also thought the eight explosive plays (20+ yards) made for an encouraging sign.

On the flip side, the defense didn't impress him as much.

"I was not particularly happy with the performance of our defense, especially from the backups. We had a number of individuals who had an opportunity to really put their resume on film."

--- Toledo is no stranger to
playing BCS opponents and winning. Being competitive against schools like Cincinnati doesn't cut it. They expect to win. They've tallied a victory over either  B1G and Big 12 school four of the last five years. This season, they lost in OT at Arizona.

2011: Lost by 5 at Ohio St.
2010: Beat Purdue
2009: Beat Colorado
2008: Beat Michigan
2007: Beat Iowa State

--- Nugget from the UC sports information staff: Derek Wolfe is now the third-leading sack artist among rookies after notching his third sack of the season last night.

Not only does the Broncos rookie own three sacks, but he's taken down Ben Roethlisberger, Tom Brady and Philip Rivers -- all Pro Bowl QBs. Though, it should be mentioned Rivers is now terrible at football.

--- That's all for now, folks. Keep checking back later this week for plenty more on both the football and basketball fronts. Had a great time chatting with Mick Cronin and a few players about the changing shape of UC basketball -- hidden meaning alert!

Shoot me an email (pauldehnerjr@gmail.com) or hit me up on Twitter (@pauldehnerjr) if you have any questions, comments or general sarcasm.

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