LAKE BUENA VISTA — The coach of University of Miami’s next opponent, one of the youngest college football coaches in America, spoke Monday about not being able to imagine the upheaval the Canes — now practicing at Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports in the Orlando area — have gone through the past couple of weeks in light of Hurricane Irma.
Toledo coach Jason Candle, 37, whose Rockets are 3-0, have a prolific offense and lead the West Division of the Mid-American Conference, grew up in Ohio.
“I haven’t been in a situation like that and quite honestly hope I never have to be,’’ Candle said during a MAC teleconference. “That’s something you never can really imagine happening and can’t really prepare for. But I know they have tremendous leadership there in Coach [Mark] Richt and the staff. There are a bunch of rock-solid guys on that staff that put probably a great plan together to get their guys, No. 1, safe first, and second, making sure their guys’ families were in good shape.
“Football takes a back seat to some of this. It has to happen that way.”
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Candle revealed that when he was an assistant coach at Toledo “a few years ago’’ he worked at UM’s football camp “when Coach [Al] Golden was there’’ and met current Miami quarterback Malik Rosier.
“Malik was in the same group I was and I got to know him a little bit,’’ Candle said. “He seems like a really tremendous kid and the guy’s got a great personality and has got some natural leadership skills a neat leadership ability to him. I thought he showed that in his first game,’’ the coach said of UM’s 41-13 opening day win on Sept. 2, its only game this season.
Candle’s quarterback, 6-2, 210-pound senior Logan Woodside, has been exceptional this season. He helped bring the Rockets back from a 21-point deficit last Saturday by throwing six touchdowns for a 54-51 victory that was capped by Toledo’s 33-yard field goal as time expired.
Woodside, whose only interception of the season in the first half was returned for a touchdown, completed 22 of 33 passes for 458 yards and the six scores against Tulsa. He faces Miami at 3:30 p.m. Saturday at Hard Rock Stadium.
“A young quarterback or a guy that doesn’t have a strong confidence to him and a strong belief in his abilities may have tanked it right there,’’ Candle said, “because that was a big deflating play for us at the time. But he comes to the sideline, gathers himself, gets on the phone with his coaches, gets himself together and has one of the best games he’s had here in his career.’’
Toledo’s passing offense is ranked 13th in the FBS, good for 334.7 yards a game. Its total offense is also impressive: 10th in the nation for 552.7 yards a game.
“I know their quarterback is pretty strong,’’ UM linebacker Zach McCloud said Sunday during the Hurricanes’ last media availability. They are not practicing today, but are concentrating on football by watching film, going to meetings and studying the Rockets. “Every opponent that we face, they all have strengths. We’re trying to look at them all the same, attack them all the same.”
Even UM left tackle Kc McDermott noticed the Toledo offense when watching the game with his teammates. “They have a fast offense,’’ McDermott said, adding “Our defense will be ready for them.’’
Said Richt of the Rockets, who have the 16th best scoring offense in the FBS with 46 points a game: “Obviously, offensively, they’re very, very good at what they do. They can put a lot of points on the board.’’