Looking to rebound after a sound 38-17 loss to USC on national television, the Orange return home this weekend to host the Toledo Rockets (1-2, 0-0 MAC), themselves the recipients of of a 40-15 home-field pasting at the hands of Boise State.
Despite the score, the Rockets played the Broncos tough for three quarters, before key turnovers and an inability to handle the Kellen Moore-led Boise passing offense put the game away. Star wideout Eric Page was contained to 69 yards on his 8 catches for an 8.6 average. Adonis Thomas had a strong game with 65 yards and a score, but the mounting deficit limited him to 14 carries.
Continuing to limit Page looks to be one of the keys to the game.
“We’ve played (Chris) Givens from Wake Forest. We’ve played (Robert) Woods from USC, and I think Page is in that type of category,” Syracuse head coach Doug Marrone said. “He’s that type of player. He’s a punt returner and kick returner. He can run the football, catch the football, and they find a lot of different ways to get the ball in his hands. He’s an explosive player and you have to make sure everyone knows where he is on the football field.”
On the Toledo side, coach Tim Beckman comes in with a strong focus on cutting down on mistakes. The Boise State game was marred by 9 penalties (8 in the second half), two promising 3rd-quarter drives ended by turnovers, and even a muffed extra point. One week earlier, the Rockets’ strong bid to be the first Ohio school to defeat Ohio State in 90 years was spoiled by 14 penalties and a three-course meal of special teams errors.
Beckman hopes he has the solution.
“Now we’re doing morning lifts on Tuesday, we’re calling it the penalty lift,” Beckman said. “It’s at 6 o’clock in the morning. You get a penalty, you’re thrown in there.”
The Rockets’ two-headed quarterback situation continues to add an air of mystery to their offense, for better of for worse. Junior Austin Dantin played poorly last week, allowing Terrence Owens the lion’s share of the snaps against Boise. One week before, it was Dantin to led the way.
Marrone doesn’t think the name on the jersey makes that much differnence
“It would be a little bit tougher if one was a runner and one was a passer, but they’re both equal,” Marrone said. “They’ve both done a very nice job in what they’re doing throwing the football. They’re getting production out of that position.”
This is the first-ever meeting between these two schools, but don’t think that means there isn’t any history at play.
“Toledo has beaten a BCS team every year for the past five years, and we’re their last BCS team on their schedule,” Marrone said. “They’ll come in here and they’ll be ready to play.”