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October 8, 2010BOISE, Idaho (AP) Boise State quarterback Kellen Moore has done a nifty job of keeping his jersey free of grass stains this season. Toledo's defensive line and linebackers have excelled at making life miserable for opposing quarterbacks.
"They give you a lot of different looks. They've got all the blitzes in their package and they know how to use them," Boise State coach Chris Petersen said. "They're relentless."
They'll have to be. The Rockets get to deal with Moore - and vice versa - when they visit the fourth-ranked Broncos for the first time Saturday.
This season, Toledo (3-2) has sacked opposing quarterbacks 14 times, including seven in a victory at Western Michigan last month. The Rockets rank 21st nationally in total sacks and are also averaging 6.6 tackles for loss per game.
But they'll face a major test in getting to Moore, who is as clever as they come at reading defenses and lethal if given time to flick passes to wideouts Austin Pettis and Titus Young, who have combined for 38 catches, 632 yards and six touchdowns. Moore has only been put on the ground once this season, a testament not only to big Bronco bodies up front.
Like last season, Moore is one of the nation's most accurate passers, with 11 TDs, one interception and an efficiency rating of 176.1.
"We're going to have to keep doing what I think we do best on defense in stopping him," said Rockets coach Tim Beckman. "To me, it's about trying to disguise as many things as you possibly can, whether that ultimately means bringing eight guys or bringing three."
To the pundits, Boise State (4-0) is in the middle of an easy stretch. The Broncos are coming off a 59-0 rout of New Mexico State, which wasn't enough to keep them from dropping one spot in the polls, and have conference lightweights San Jose State, Louisiana Tech and Hawaii later this month. They don't face another ranked team until No. 23 Nevada late next month.
So the Broncos can ill afford to take the Rockets lightly and risk any more wrath in the eyes of voters looking for nothing less than perfection.
Petersen doesn't expect that to happen, and points to Toledo's resume and ability to play well in hostile environs. After losing at Arizona in the opener, The Rockets responded with three straight road wins, including a 31-20 upset at Purdue on Sept. 25.
They faltered last week against Wyoming, a team trounced two weeks ago by Boise State.
"You put on the tape and let the guys make judgments and opinions for themselves," said Petersen. "You see that these guys beat a Big Ten team, and that speaks for itself. I don't think our players are going to have any trouble getting ready for these guys at all."
The question for the Bronco defense, however, is which Toledo quarterback they'll face.
Beckman reopened the competition for the starting job between incumbent Austin Dantin and redshirt freshman Terrance Owens.
Dantin, a sophomore who has started every game this season, was benched in the Wyoming loss after failing to get the offense rolling through three quarters. Dantin finished 8 of 20 for 76 yards, while the offense overall amassed just 188 yards against the Cowboys.
Beckman likes the spark Owens provided in the fourth quarter, even though he was just 6 of 15 for 104 yards. After all, he guided the Rockets to two touchdowns in the final quarter.
Beckman said he expects Dantin will start Saturday, but an official decision won't be made until game time. The Broncos can expect to see both, depending on the situation.
"They've both had great practices this week," Beckman said. "Austin has a little more of the game experience you're looking for in a big game like this. We'll see what happens Saturday."
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