Owens making mark as Toledo's QB
Toledo has been a two-quarterback football program, one that features two quarterbacks on the cover of its media guide and lists co-starters at the game's most important position on its official depth chart.
The last two weeks, the Rockets have played one quarterback and has improved to 2-1 on the year.
The hot hand of junior Terrance Owens has been enough for coach Matt Campbell to scrap the two-QB system, even if it's not official. Now, the challenge is for Owens to keep pushing the Rockets to a season all involved will remember.
Wins over Wyoming and Bowling Green have Toledo in position to compete for the MAC West title and match or surpass last year's nine-win season.
"We have very high expectations," Owens said. "That's no different if I'm playing one series a game or every series. This offense, it works and our success (from the past) proves it. For me it's just getting everybody involved and just doing everything I can to help this team win."
For most of last season, Austin Dantin was the starter and Owens would enter later, usually in the third series. Owens got three starts and played in 12 of 13 games last year, and Dantin -- now a senior -- also started this season's opener at Arizona. Owens was a very ordinary 11-of-22 for 134 yards in the opener, and a bunch of Toledo mistakes led to an overtime loss.
The following week at Wyoming, Owens started -- and he hasn't come out yet.
Going back to last November, Owens has put together a seven-game stretch during which he's thrown 18 touchdowns versus just one interception, has completed 71 percent of his passes and has thrown for 1,807 yards. Included in that stretch are a four-touchdown pass game vs. Ball State, a three-touchdown game in the Military Bowl win over Air Force last December and a 300-yard, four-touchdown game in the 34-31 win at Wyoming, when Owens also ran for 74 yards.
"Not much is really different with me starting," Owens said. "I always go to practice and prepare myself as a the starter. I always did. People say playing two quarterbacks isn't ideal, but it made both of us come ready to go at practice and it made me better.
"That's what it's been for me, just working on little things and little details and making those improvements. Every practice counts."
Owens, 6-foot-4, 195-pound lefty from Cleveland's famous Glenville High School has a big enough arm and enough athletic gifts that he was drafted in the 40th round of the Major League Baseball Draft last June by the San Diego Padres even though he hasn't played baseball since before high school.
"(Owens) has just been consistent from the beginning of the football game," Campbell said. "He can make all throws and he's been in rhythm from the very beginning of the games. He's come out and made some huge throws for us early in the game."
The switch to one quarterback is a drastic one for the Rockets. Before the season, Campbell dismissed talk of a two-quarterback situation being less than ideal by saying "it's who we are" and insisting that every player in the locker room supported both Dantin and Owens.
"The way (Dantin and Owens) handle it says the world about them, and thats why we're successful," Campbell said. "We always talk about competition and competing at a high level. They have both earned the right to play, and I think it's a great example to the rest of our team that at any position there might be more than one guy that can play it, and we're going to play the guys who deserve to play."
Last week against Bowling Green, Dantin played on the punt team. Campbell praised his work there, and it's not just coach speak. Dantin's presence on the punt team forces opponents to prepare and adjust for a variety of scenarios, and having a proven backup is a luxury a lot of teams don't have.
Toledo has talent in place. The hope is that Owens can help the Rockets maximize it, and having a guy who threw 15 touchdowns and just four interceptions last year ready and waiting can't be a bad thing.
"It's certainly a challenge because both guys are outstanding football players," Campbell said. "The competitor Austin is, I know it's not easy. We know we're going to need him. We know he'll be ready when that time comes."