Inside Slant: Boise State at Toledo

Boise State lacked the big play in the opener against Georgia but they made up for it with execution. The Broncos finished with 24 first downs, 390 yards and five touchdowns. The Broncos dominated Georgia on defense except for three plays, two of which were caused by blown coverages in the secondary on communication errors.

GAME SNAPSHOT
KICKOFF: Friday, 8 ET
GAMEDATE: 9/16/11
SITE: Glass Bowl
SURFACE: FieldTurf
TV: ESPN
SERIES: Boise State leads 1-0 (last meeting, 2010, Boise State 57-14)
RECORDS: Boise State 1-0; Toledo 1-1
POLLS: Boise State (No. 4 AP, No. 4 USA Today)
PREDICTION: Boise State 35-17

KEYS TO THE GAME:
-- For Boise State: Keep balanced. Whichever defense is able to control the run will have a significant advantage. Both teams also have question marks at kicker.

-- For Toledo: Avoid sloppy mistakes. Two botched field goals, a punt return allowed for a touchdown, and more than 100 yards in penalties cost the Rockets the shot at a win over Ohio State last week. Clean is the operative word for the Rockets -- they need a mistake-free performance.

SCOUTING THE TEAMS:
Boise State lacked the big play in the opener against Georgia but they made up for it with execution. The Broncos finished with 24 first downs, 390 yards and five touchdowns. They should have scored a sixth time, but QB Kellen Moore threw a rare bad interception deep in Bulldog territory. Nine different players caught passes, which likely will be a trend. TBs Doug Martin and D.J. Harper combined for 101 rushing yards and two touchdowns.

The Broncos dominated Georgia on defense except for three plays, two of which were caused by blown coverages in the secondary on communication errors. The three touchdowns combined for 167 yards. Georgia's other 57 plays netted just 206. The defensive line remains the strength of the group, recording 5.5 sacks in the opener. The secondary will be tested by Toledo's dynamic offense, particularly the safeties and nickels.

Toledo is demonstrating that WR/KR Eric Page is one of the most dynamic talents in the country, but the Rockets need to be careful not to become too reliant on the All-American. It is time for TE Danny Noble and WR Cordale Scott to emerge more prominently in the passing game. The run portion of the offense needs a bounce-back performance after struggling a bit against Ohio State. Toledo's two-quarterback approach with Austin Dantin and Terrance Owens has not proved detrimental -- yet.

Toledo's defense has been hit hard by injuries and attrition, losing LB Dan Molls, the team's top tackler and inspirational leader. Molls is nursing an injury and should eventually return, but starting S Mark Singer was lost for the season with a torn labrum in his shoulder suffered in fall camp. LB Isaiah Ballard was kicked off the team for his involvement in a fight off-campus, also in the preseason. Three starters down, the Rockets really have to upgrade their performance against the electric Boise State offense.

FAST FACTS:
Broncos: QB Kellen Moore was 16-of-22 passing for 267 yards in last year's game against Toledo. ... Boise State has gone 8-3 against MAC teams but has won the last seven. ... With a victory over the Rockets, this year's seniors would become the 10th consecutive class to notch at least 40 wins in their careers. ... The Broncos were 5-for-5 scoring touchdowns in the red zone against Georgia. Technically, they were 5-for-6 -- but that counts a possession on which they took a knee at the Bulldogs' 3-yard line. ... Senior SS Travis Stanaway will start. He's the third player named the starter at that position this season. Senior Cedric Febis has been held out of games while his NCAA eligibility was investigated, but he was cleared just before the team left to fly to Toledo and is expected to play although not start. Redshirt freshman Jeremy Ioane started the opener and gave way to Stanaway in the second half.

Rockets: Boise State comes into the Glass Bowl ranked 4th in the nation, the highest ranked team to ever play on Toledo's home field. The Rockets have a very respectable 6-9 all-time record against teams ranked in the Top 25. They are 4-0 in the Glass Bowl, having beaten Marshall (No. 18 in 2001), Pittsburgh (No. 9 in 2003), Northern Illinois (No. 21 in 2003), and Bowling Green (No. 24 in 2004). ... Senior CB Taikwon Paige had a career-best seven tackles in the narrow loss at Ohio State. ... Freshman CB Kishon Wilcher streaked through the protection and blocked an Ohio State punt in the first quarter against the Buckeyes. ... WR/KR Eric Page, only a junior, needs just 32 receptions to become Toledo's all-time leading receiver.

PLAYERS TO WATCH:
Broncos:
WR Matt Miller -- His college debut was a huge success. He made five catches for a team-high 57 yards against Georgia, including a touchdown on his first catch. Now that a team will have a chance to prepare for him, it will be interesting to see how he fares.
RB Doug Martin -- He was largely bottled up by Georgia, gaining 57 hard-earned yards and scoring a touchdown. His long run went for 9 yards. He seems due for a breakout game.
DE Shea McClellin -- He led the team with seven tackles and 2.5 sacks against Georgia, quickly entering his name in the Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year race. He is an end/linebacker hybrid who is difficult for offenses to handle.

Rockets:

WR/KR Eric Page -- Every game and every play when Page is on the field, he is the player to watch. The junior showed his playmaker skills in the narrow loss at Ohio State, scoring touchdowns on receptions of six and 66 yards. Page had 12 receptions for 145 yards, returned a kick 42 yards and also passed for a two-point conversion.
LB Terrell Anderson -- Designated for a backup role this season when the Rockets broke camp, Anderson has been tossed into the breach after the injury to LB Dan Molls. Anderson's first start came against Ohio State, and now he gets to stare down the high-powered Boise State offense. Anderson needs to fare well in this test to give the Rockets a chance.
Senior RB Adonis Thomas -- Thomas won a prolonged battle with former 1,000-yard rusher Morgan Williams to get the starting job. Now Thomas has to hang on to the role. He had 14 carries for 47 yards at Ohio State, and also caught six passes for 111 yards.

INJURY WATCH:
Broncos:
FB Dan Paul (groin, doubtful), CB Ebo Makinde (chest, probable), LG Joe Kellogg (undisclosed, day-to-day).

Rockets:
LB Dan Molls (foot/ankle, out).



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