Chat with Bruce Gradkowski
|Toledo opens the season on Sept. 1 in the Glass Bowl vs. Western Illinois.|
Toledo returns 16 starters and 36 letterwinners in 2005, including Gradkowski, who led the Rockets to a MAC championship in 2004 and was named championship game MVP. Gradkowski is also the only player in I-A history to produce back-to-back seasons of 70 percent or better in pass completion accuracy.
With a 9-4 record in 2004, Toledo capped its 11th straight winning season, and made their third Motor City Bowl appearance in four years.
Send your questions for Gradkowski now and join The Show on Thursday at 3 p.m. ET!
For more on Toledo, visit www.utrockets.com.
Bruce Gradkowski (3:00 PM)
I'm here and ready, so let's get going!
Tyler Clark Toledo, Ohio
Bruce, First off I would just like to say to you good luck with your season. Being in the city of Toledo with a D1 University is awesome to go to games and watch you. I was just wondering how does your hand feel? Are you 100%? GO ROCKETS Tyler Clark
Bruce Gradkowski (3:01 PM)
Thanks, Tyler. I'm back at full speed and ready to get the season underway. I'm 100 percent and I'm ready.
What are your impressions of John Shannon since he became offensive coordinator in the offseason?
Bruce Gradkowski (3:02 PM)
I've been working with Coach Shannon for a couple years as the receivers coach, and he will do a great job. Look for us to do some different things and have some new wrinkles. What those are I don't quite know, but look for some new stuff.
Chris (Bowling Green, OH)
Are you ready for November 22nd in Bowling Green? Your probably going to have to put up at least 42 points to beat Omar Jacobs and the Bowling Green Falcons.
Bruce Gradkowski (3:03 PM)
That's a ways off, Chris, but we'll definitley be ready to play that one. Omar is a great QB.
Tom (Holland, Ohio)
I have a comment and a question. Bruce, I was very impressed by your performance in the MACC game, congrats. I understand that your family is from Pittsburgh, what was it like for them after your big win against a nationally ranked Pitt team in 03? Was anyone upset that a hometown kid beat their beloved Panthers?
Bruce Gradkowski (3:04 PM)
Thanks, and I had about 50 family members in for the game and they said they felt famous after the game. They got complements, they enjoyed it, they got a lot of feedback. It was great for them.
Bruce Gradkowski (3:05 PM)
My sister goes to Pitt and even her professors had some feedback for her!
You've obviously got a hell of an arm. Would you have rathered been a part of a better college conference or are you happy ripping up the MAC?
Bruce Gradkowski (3:06 PM)
I think playing in the MAC is great. There's a lot of competition and it's a dogfight. We're a better conference than people think, and I probably needed a league like this so I could grow and learn at the right pace.
With the departure of Lance Moore are you looking to spread the ball around or has another reciever stepped up to assume Lance's role?
Bruce Gradkowski (3:07 PM)
The loss of Moore is huge but we have some guys who can fill that spot. Everyone can contribute, so look for the ball to be spread around a little more than it has in the past.
Ryan - Oxford, Ohio
Which defense in the MAC do you worry about the most, whether you play against them in the regular season or may meet in the MAC Championship game? Go Rockets and it's too bad for us fans that this is your last year!
Bruce Gradkowski (3:08 PM)
OU has a defense that always throws different things and they play three down, so that's a little tough. But Miami always has a tough squad, too, and we might get to play them this year. But I'm not scared of any defense.
Do you feel that the Rockets can take the MAC this year? and how has Andy Hawkins been progressing?
Bruce Gradkowski (3:10 PM)
I definitley think we can take the MAC. It's a long road but the guys we have coming back are good and the leadership is good. Hawkins has been doing very well for us and I look for him to have a big season.
PJ, SF, CA
Are you looking forward to the Fresno State game? Is there anything you fear about that team?
Bruce Gradkowski (3:11 PM)
I'm very excited about that one. It will be a great game and a chance to get our school on the map against a team like that that is also a mid-major looking for more respect. It's a great opportunity for both programs.
I have attended every home game in the last couple of years and to my recollection you guys have not lost at the Glass Bowl. Upsetting Pitt and BG. Is it the great atmosphere that gives you a home field advantage? Also, do you think you can win on the road this year and make a run at the BCS like Utah did?
Bruce Gradkowski (3:12 PM)
Well, we have fans like yourself who come out every year. That's a comforting field and we thrive on that. The support is maybe the biggest thing for us.
Ryan, Ft. Lauderdale, FL
Bruce, a big Rocketfan here. All of my co-workers here in Ft. Lauderdale know who the Rockets are. My question is, how is Andrew Clarke (TE) doing? Will he be back this year? Also, how tough was it last year missing such a terrific Tight End?
Bruce Gradkowski (3:14 PM)
Glad to hear there are fans down there! Clarke's work ethic and talent made him a big loss, but Holmes did a great job last year. We hope to have Clarke back in the mix but we do have some young guys who look good, too.
Bruce,Do you believe that QBs that come out of the MAc is Underated when Recruited?
Bruce Gradkowski (3:16 PM)
For the most part we aren't recruited as hard, but from my point of view the MAC is a good place to learn. We face good defenses and play good systems and the QBs get to shine.
Doug Clarks summit, Pa
If you could have played in any of the major conferences, which one would you choose and what team?
Bruce Gradkowski (3:17 PM)
I like where I'm at. It's hard to pick because I've been here so long and built some real rivalries. I'd always love the opportunity to play against some bigger schools, but I'd never want to play for another team.
Dustin (Waco, Texas)
Do you feel like you are overshadowed or lost in the mix playing in Toledo and not at say Ohio State?
Bruce Gradkowski (3:19 PM)
Sometimes we do get lost in the shuffle a little. Even kids at camps I work ask me whether Michigan or Ohio State is my favorite team!
Brady (Denver, CO)
What is your favorite/most comfortable passing concept to throw during the course of the game?
Bruce Gradkowski (3:19 PM)
It's hard to say, but I like dropping back and letting it fly. People think of short drops and short passes with us, but I like getting the ball down the field.
Finish the sentence... my idol growing up is...
Bruce Gradkowski (3:20 PM)
Dan Marino. Like many other kids in Pennsylvania. My gramdmother used to go to Florida for the winters and she always brough back Dolphins gear for me.
ML (Boca Raton,Fl)
What would you tell a recruit looking at UT?
Bruce Gradkowski (3:22 PM)
The program is headed in the right direction. The players who came before set the bar high for us and we're doing the same for the guys to come. We're establishing a tradition here. I've loved my time here and I would recommend Toledo to just about anyone.
Scot, Waterville, oh
do you think the MAC championship will be aginst BG or Miami
Bruce Gradkowski (3:23 PM)
Well, it's a long ways off, but our goal is to have Toledo there against one of those teams, or any other team.
Who is the most athletic player on your team, besides yourself?
Bruce Gradkowski (3:24 PM)
Tough to say, Steve. But I'll go with SS Keon Jackson. He plays well every game and just keeps getting in there time after time, game after game.
MK (Perrysburg, OH)
How has coach Amstutz had an impact on your career?
Bruce Gradkowski (3:25 PM)
He's a great coach and always positive, so it's easy to play for him. He's out there to win and knows how to do that, so that makes it fun. He's been a great influence on me.
Adam R. Miller
Name your top 5 college Q.B.'s in order in the nation this year
Bruce Gradkowski (3:27 PM)
It's hard to rank them like that, but I'm impressed by Matt Leinart and the way he leads USC. Charlie Whitehurts from Clemson has a great arm, and of course Vince Young from Texas is probably the most athletice QB out there. And don't forget the guy from Toledo.
Mike Mason's roomate, Pittsburgh, PA
What's up Bruce? Just wanted to ask you how the defense was looking this year, being as they have been a weakness recently.
Bruce Gradkowski (3:29 PM)
I just talked to Mike, thanks for the question! Our defense is looking strong with eight defensive starters coming back and hopefully that will let us have some balance this season.
Bruce Gradkowski (3:29 PM)
That's all the time I have. Sorry we couldn't answer everyone's questions. Thanks for being here and be sure to root for the Rockets this fall!!
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