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Rockets expect tougher challenge from BYU

09/30/2016, 12:23am EDT
By By BRIAN BUCKEY BLADE SPORTS WRITER

Cougars are 1-3, with 3 close losses this season

Rockets expect tougher challenge from BYU

Toledo coach Jason Candle took advantage of last week’s break in the schedule to watch the Central Catholic-Whitmer game from the sidelines. BLADE/ANDY MORRISON

PROVO, Utah — As the University of Toledo prepares to play Brigham Young University today, early season results have the teams going in opposite directions.

While Toledo (3-0) has outscored its opponents 128-30, BYU (1-3) has lost its three games by a total of seven points.

Despite what the Cougars’ record says, the Rockets will have their toughest test of the season at LaVell Edwards Stadium.

“Our victories so far have been somewhat one-sided and a couple of those games we were able to impose our will on people,” UT coach Jason Candle said. “This game, they certainly will not allow that. All their football games were close because they got down and kept clawing and fighting and getting back into it and they have a lot of veteran players on that team that have played a lot of football.

“Their schedule is a very competitive football schedule. There is not an easy week that they have on that schedule.”

After winning its opener at Arizona, BYU lost at Utah (20-19), at home to UCLA (20-17), and to West Virginia (35-32) at FedEx Field in Landover, Md.

“This is a very mature team that plays really hard for all 60 minutes,” Candle said of BYU. “If you watched the West Virginia game, they didn’t quit. They got down and just kept clawing and scratching and fighting back. Certainly they have a group of guys that are physical and they play hard.”

The Cougars are led by their fifth-year senior quarterback Taysom Hill who is 91-of-151 passing for 869 yards and four touchdowns while running for 225 yards and two touchdowns. Jamaal Williams paces BYU in rushing with 79 carries for 417 yards and three touchdowns and could become BYU’s all-time leading rusher by the end of the season.

BRIGGS: Rockets face mountainous test out West

“BYU is a great team,” UT senior defensive tackle Treyvon Hester said. “They are a good, athletic team who will come out ready to go against us. I plan on them having a big and physical offensive line who will try to move us around a little bit. They have a nice running back who runs behind his pads, and they’re a well-coached team. We’ll come prepared and we’ll come focused.”

Defensively, BYU has excelled at forcing turnovers. The Cougars have already caused seven interceptions.

“They play very hard and that is a very sound defense,” UT senior running back Damion Jones-Moore said. “They don’t make a lot of mistakes and it’s a veteran group. They are big up front and they are big everywhere, honestly.”

Candle said UT can expect to see some adversity during the game, which could include playing from behind, which the Rockets have yet to do.

“[BYU] is a team that has played in some very tough football games so far,” Candle said. “They have had to play down to the wire. They’ve played from behind and they’ve had to play ahead. We have not had to play from behind yet. Some tough situations throughout the course of a season have not come up in our games so far. All we can do is continue to practice and prepare our kids for those type of situations and then when we get in them, hopefully we don’t get shell-shocked and we handle the moment well like we are prepared to.”

BYU is the marquee non-conference game on UT’s schedule and represents an opportunity for the Rockets to measure their progress against a traditional powerhouse.

“We’re still a maturing product,” Candle said. “I think we are still growing in who we want to be and in becoming what we want to become. It’s the next game. It’s another chance for us to go out and get better and take the next step. Certainly to be the best you have to beat the best and this is one of the better programs historically in college football. It’s one that we have a lot of respect for and it’s a storied tradition. It will be a great atmosphere there, a Friday night game, and everyone in the country will be able to see our team play and our kids take a lot of pride in playing well and playing competitive in those type of environments.”

Contact Brian Buckey at: bbuckey@theblade.com or 419-724-6110.

TOLEDO at BRIGHAM YOUNG

Time: 10:15 p.m.

TV: ESPN2

Radio: 1370 AM

Series: First meeting

Records: UT 3-0; BYU 1-3

Favorite: BYU by 3½

Notes: Toledo leads the nation in successful third-down attempts, converting 28 of 47 (59.6 percent). ... Rockets opponents are just 8-of-48 (16.7 percent) on third-down attempts, which is the fourth-best mark in the country. ... Toledo has 1,691 yards of total offense, while allowing only 755 yards to opponents. ... The Rockets have not allowed a sack this year, and have only given up a sack in three of their past 15 games. ... UT junior wide receiver Cody Thompson is second in the nation with 32.8 yards per catch. ... UT junior quarterback Logan Woodside has completed nine passes of 40 yards or more, better than UT’s seven all of last season. ... BYU is facing its first MAC opponent this season, and is 5-4 all time against the MAC. ... Thirteen players have a reception this season for BYU. ... Kai Nacua has three interceptions this season, the most in the country. ... The Cougars have forced 11 turnovers, including seven interceptions.

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Tag(s): College  Toledo