TOLEDO - The Rockets enter the 2012 season with a new head coach but the same high expectations.
Toledo (9-4, 7-1 MAC in 2011) opens up its 2012 season at Arizona on Saturday (10:30 p.m. ET - ESPNU). the game not only marks the regular-season debut of Matt Campbell as the rockets' head coach, but also is the first game for Rich Rodriguez as Arizona's leader.
"It's a great opener for us," said Campbell, who was named head coach at the end of the 2011 season and coached the Rockets to victory at the Military Bowl. "Those are the expectations at the University of Toledo. We expect to play in big games. We're used to it. It's a great opportunity for us. We have tremendous respect for Coach Rodriguez and what he's done. Arizona will be a big challenge for us both offensively and defensively."
Toledo was the media's pick to win the West Division of the Mid-American Conference this season despite losing 13 starters from last year's squad. Nevertheless, the Rockets have a roster filled with seasoned veterans, especially on defense, as well as the unique situation of fielding two quarterbacks who have basically split time evenly over the past two seasons.
Campbell's defense is led by two seniors who are coming back from injuries suffered last season, defensive end T.J. Fatinikun and free safety Mark Singer. Singer, who missed all of last season, is joined at safety by Jermaine Robinson, the only four-year starter on the squad. Fatinikun sat out the final seven games of 2011 but still earned All-MAC honors. He leads a defensive line that is experienced, talented and deep.
As for the all-important quarterback position, Campbell said he will wait until after Wednesday's practice to name a starter. He added that junior Terrance Owens and senior Austin Dantin will both see playing time against the Wildcats.
Back Story on the Arizona Game
- This will be the fourth meeting between the two schools, and the final contest in a three-game series. Arizona leads the series, 3-0, including wins at Tucson in 2008 and Toledo in 2010.
- Toledo is 42-47-2 all-time in season openers. Toledo has not won a season opener on the road since a 24-6 victory at Penn State in 2000.
- Toledo is 0-5 vs. Pac-10 schools (0-3 vs. Arizona, 0-1 vs. Arizona State and 0-1 vs. Washington).
- Toledo returns 17 players who have started at least one game in their career, nine on defense, eight on offense.
- Matt Campbell will make his regular-season debut as head coach vs. Arizona. Campbell coached the Rockets to victory in last year's Military Bowl after assuming the lead spot vacated by Tim Beckman, who left for Illinois.
- Campbell, 32, is the youngest head coach in NCAA-FBS.
- Arizona also has a new coach, Rich Rodriguez. The Rockets defeated Rodriguez's Michigan squad, 13-10 in 2008, his first season with the Wolverines.
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