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Arkansas State Red Wolves vs. Toledo Rockets: 6 Questions for Hustle Belt

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The 2015 GoDaddy Bowl was a defenseless slug fest that saw the Rockets emerge as 63-44 victors. Seven months later, the Monsters of the MAC have a retooled offensive line, a new quarterback, and two big wins against Power Five teams. What can the Red Wolves expect on their visit to Toledo this Saturday?

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Toledo wasn't supposed to go into Little Rock and come out with a win. Toledo not only controlled #18 Arkansas 16-12, they later trolled the Hogs by selling a commemorative t-shirt for $16.12. It would have been understandable if the Rockets had exhausted their fuel on that win, but Toledo decided to go ahead and beat Iowa State, too.

So what do we make of this Toledo team? QB Phillip Ely is a transfer from Alabama who has only completed 48% of his passes this year. Kareem Huntthe 2015 GoDaddy Bowl MVP who destroyed A-State for 5 touchdowns, was suspended for Arkansas but ran for 129 yards against Iowa State. The defense has one interception, yet held a supposedly dangerous Arkansas rushing attack to 12 points. Who are these guys?

Luckily, life provides us with Alex Alavardo from Hustle Belt for powerful answers!

1. Toledo defeated Arkansas. Toledo defeated Iowa State. Toledo’s not in the AP Top 25. Toledo’s kinda pissed, right?


ALEXANDER: Not as pissed as Northern Illinois fans, but that sort of goes without saying. I haven't heard a whole lot of "rabble rabble wuddabout us?" from Toledo fans and they shouldn't be too upset not cracking the Top 25 either. The win over Arkansas was exciting, absolutely. I'm sure the Razorbacks' loss to Texas Tech didn't help Toledo's chances of making it in this week either. And Iowa State's a Big 12 school, but the Cyclones haven't had a winning season (not including bowl games) since 2004. It wasn't an upset by any means.


2. Toledo scored 63 points on Arkansas State in the GoDaddy Bowl. This year, the Rockets have scored a total of 46 points. Is Toledo a defensive team now?

ALEXANDER: Too tough to say at this point. I think the pass defense has some polishing up to do. I've seen flashes of really solid play from Chaz Whittaker and Cheatham Norrils, but they still have let up 343 passing yards per game (that's without the one half of play against Stony Brook).


3. If healthy, Kareem Hunt is clearly a player the Red Wolves must contain. Who else should A-State worry about?

ALEXANDER: I'm sure Arkansas State fans don't want Hunt to be healthy for this game either, especially if we remember the GoDaddy Bowl from January. Damion Jones-Moore has been a solid no. 2 back for the team and doesn't get enough credit for what he does, currently leading the team with 5.6 yards per carry. I'd also say watch out for receiver Corey Jones, a slot receiver that can make the first tackle miss with enough room to make a move.


4. When last these teams met, Logan Woodside was Toledo’s signal caller. Now Phillip Ely calls the shots. How are they different?


ALEXANDER: I think they're similar in a lot of ways, but I'd almost trust Woodside to try to make a play or two with his feet, but it's not like the guy was a threat on the ground. If Toledo receivers didn't have this weird problem of dropping passes (usually beyond the chains), then we'd be reading a better season stat line for Ely right now, which stands at 32-for-66 (48 percent) for 375 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT.


5. Trent Voss and Kareem Hunt are listed as "questionable." How questionable are they?

ALEXANDER: I wish I had an answer for you, but it really would hurt to not have either of them out there. Voss is an extremely talented linebacker that plays defensive end. He's shown that he can disrupt the passing attack, which is something that needs some serious help as I've already pointed out.


6. Last Red Wolves/Rockets dust up produced more than 1,000 combined yards of offense and 107 points. What’s your prediction for A-State vs. Toledo II?

ALEXANDER: I'm worried that this Toledo team won't be lighting up the scoreboard like I expected them to a month ago. However, I still like Toledo over the Red Wolves. If receivers quit dropping passes, then Ely's job is going to be 10 times easier, because those moments are the differences between moving the chains and punting the ball over. Toledo 29 - Arkansas State 23