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Wyoming Cowboys - Toledo Rockets Preview

If there are two teams out there that are nearly mirror images, it would appear to be Wyoming and Toledo.  The Cowboys and the Rockets share a similar makeup of personnel, offensive schemes, defensive standouts, and even some history with the current UW coaches.

The Cowboys had a solid performance against a very tough AFA team this past week, and they look to build upon that.  The running game finally got off the ground against a fairly stout AF defense, but the passing game took a backseat as compared to previous games.  The defense played well and played their assignments with a discipline which held AF 20 yards below their season average.  Two turnovers really cost UW the game, and that has been an area where they are lacking as compared to last year's team which excelled at taking the ball away.

Toledo has a sophomore quarterback who has played very well so far this year.  UW of course has a sophomore QB as well.  Toledo runs a spread offense, which until last week UW ran as well.  Toledo utilizes a 4:3 defense, ditto for UW.  Toledo has a stable of active and talented receivers.  UW: check.

The only other real differences we have seen between the two teams so far are the records.  Hold Toledo's 3-1 record to the mirror, and we see Wyoming's 1-3.  Toledo has beaten a team from an AQ conference, and Wyoming has lost against one.

In theory we should see two very evenly matched teams.  In reality we might see Toledo take this one and run.  The Glass Bowl has traditionally been a tough place to play for visiting teams, as evidenced by the shellacking that Toledo gave Colorado a few years ago (as well as other teams).  So far only Arizona has beaten Toledo, and that was in the first game of the season.  Since then, Toledo has really risen up and played some good football.

Toledo's QB is still young, but has about the same amount of experience as UW's Carta-Samuels.  The passing game is probably their greatest strength on offense.  Rushing so far has been decent, but certainly not outstanding.  There are some questions about their offensive line, especially considering the improvements that UW's d-line has seen over the past few weeks.  The linebacker corps for Toledo seems quite active, and quite skilled.

Wyoming certainly has a chance to win this game, but a few things need to happen.  The o-line needs to again create running lanes, and be active enough to be able to engage the 2nd level of Toledo's defense (namely those very active linebackers).  They will also need to protect Carta-Samuels and allow him some time to see open receivers.  ACS has a lot to watch out for, as it seems the Rocket's linebacker and secondary personnel are just out there sniffing for interceptions.

On paper this appears to be a game between two very evenly matched teams.  In reality Toledo has a lot of confidence coming away from a big win, and playing on their home field.  Wyoming is coming off of a three game losing streak, and one of its main linebackers (Hendricks) is uncertain for this game.  The one thing that Wyoming does have to its advantage is that they have seen how much they can improve in a short period of time.  If Wyoming can see an improvement between last week and this week, as they did between the BSU and AFA games, then there is a nice chance of them being able to pull off a win in a very hostile environment.

A lot of things need to happen first.  ACS needs to keep turnovers down.  Our defense needs to continue to tackle.  Both lines need to do their jobs, and be productive in their blocks and closing down running lanes, as well as putting pressure on Toledo's sophomore quarterback.  The defense needs to create some turnovers, and our secondary really needs to show how well they can play.

If both teams play well, then this will be a very enjoyable and competitive game.  If either of them falls down, then it could be a bloodbath.  So far Wyoming has been the more unpredictable team, so the advantage in this game certainly goes to Toledo.  Still, if the Pokes step up, this could be a good springboard for the rest of the season.