The BYU Cougars and Toledo Rockets have never played on the gridiron. Toledo was founded in 1872 but didn't field their first football team until 1917. The Rockets are part of the Mid-American Conference (MAC) and from 1969-1971 held the nation's attention with a 35 game winning streak.
Against West Virginia the BYU offense not only showed some improvement, they also showed some fight. It was a pleasant surprise since it appeared that they had been sleepwalking through the first three games of the season. Putting up almost double their average points was a positive step and may have provided a boost of much needed confidence.
It is hard to overlook the 169 yards put up by Jamaal Williams, or the 101 yards rushing by Taysom Hill but for this game we will. The reason is that the offensive line finally showed that they have the potential to be very good. Although Williams and Hill both put forth extra effort in getting the yards they earned, they also had some great blocking and big holes given to them by the big guys up front. If the line can play at that level every night, the Cougars offense should begin to emerge and Hill can play without running for his life.
The defense struggled a bit this game as they gave up more points than in the first three games. Although they didn't give up the full 35 points, they still gave up more than they should have as the Mountaineers used the entire field. Not only did this cause problems with speed on the outside, it also forced guys to make tackles in the open field. Normally this wouldn't be an issue but on Saturday the defenders forgot how to tackle and time after time the Mountaineers moved the ball. The Cougars defense is good and will need to put this game behind them and get back to their hard hitting defense against Toledo.
BYU Secondary vs. Toledo Receivers
The Cougars’ secondary has played the long ball fairly well this season, with exception to a few plays against West Virginia. The coverage has been tight and the defense is ranked 6th in the country in interceptions. Opponents have thrown 133 passes against the Cougars and with seven interceptions the Cougars are averaging an interception every 19 passes. Toledo loves the big play and this could play into the Cougars’ hands if they can buckle down. The Rockets have only played three games this year but already have four touchdown passes over 60 yards. If the receivers can create some separation, it could prove to be a long day for the BYU secondary.
The Keys to Watch
When the Rockets have the ball:
Watch for junior quarterback Logan Woodside to light up the field as he is averaging almost 11.5 yards per attempt. He is completing over 62% of his passes and has an 11 to 1 touchdown to interception ratio.
Woodside relies on three key receivers to make plays as Cody Thompson, Corey Jones and Michael Roberts have caught 65% of his passes. Although the pass is a staple in the fast paced Toledo offense, the run is used a bit more to try and keep the defense honest. The Rockets run by committee with Kareem Hunt taking the bulk of the carries. Four players have at least 20 carries and the team is averaging just over five yards per carry.
Watch for the Cougars to let their guys up front stop the run, allowing the linebackers to either provide pressure on the quarterback or drop back into coverage. Woodside isn't much of a running threat, he has only rushed four times this year, leaving an extra defender that doesn’t need to spy the quarterback. If the Cougars can get some pressure on Woodside, throwing the timing off just a little, the Cougars could capitalize and provide opportunities for Hill and company.
When the Cougars have the ball:
Watch for the Cougars to continue the progression that was shown last week. Ty Detmer used Hill more effectively in the run game and it led to his best overall performance of the year. There is still more progress to be made but fans got a glimpse of the potential of the Cougars under Detmer. Watch for the receivers to make an impact on the offense, in a positive way rather than watching interceptions after a tip.
The receivers need to step up and do their part to make the offense successful or all the blocking by the offensive line will go to waste. Williams will get his carries and yards behind an improved offensive line, but he can't do it on his own and Hill will have to take advantage of his opportunities. The dual threat could make the difference in the game and force the Rockets to spread themselves thin in the secondary.
Watch for the Rockets to force Hill to pass the ball in order to win the game. The Cougars have yet to show a deep threat and so Toledo will put little effort into defending it. Watch for them to play man-to-man while the front seven focus on stopping Williams. Toledo should have a spy shadowing Hill and forcing him to stay in the pocket or risk being caught behind the line.
The Rockets first football team consisted of 13 players, a coach that was an engineering professor, and uniforms paid for by the players. In their first game they lost 145-0 but set the foundation of the program with the $150 payment they received in compensation. For more details and events in Toledo football history, visit the Rocket Football Timeline.
The next scheduled meeting between the schools will be on September 28th, 2019 in Toledo, Ohio.
The Broadcasting Details
Time: 8:15 pm MT
Where: Lavell Edwards Stadium-Provo, Utah
Radio(BYU): KSL 1160 AM/102.7 FM, BYU Radio-Sirius XM 143
Listen Live via Internet(KSL): Click Here