BOISE - Although the final outcome was ugly, University of Toledo coach Tim Beckman tried to salvage at least one positive from the Rockets' 57-14 loss Saturday to Boise State.
With the game decided well before the last second ticked off the clock, Beckman got several seldom-used Rockets some playing time.
"Out of the 65 players [on the travel roster], I bet you about 62 of them played in this game," Beckman said. "We were going to try to play just about everybody in this football game."
In fact, 54 UT players were credited in the box score with participating in the game, but that's still a significant amount for a road contest.
"I wanted them to experience what it's like to play against a team that's number [four] in the country," Beckman said. "All of those younger players that we have, it's just going to make them better. That's exactly what these guys [Boise State] have done. If you look at those senior wide receivers, guess when they started playing - when they were freshmen."
Beckman often uses the Broncos as a reference point when talking about re-building the UT program.
"This is where we want to be," Beckman said of Boise State. "This is the pinnacle of non-BCS football right now."
Despite the setback, junior safety Isaiah Ballard and his teammates still managed to take in the experience of facing one of the best teams in the nation and playing on the Smurf Turf of Bronco Stadium.
"Before I went to college, I looked at this field and I was like, 'That's a nice field,'" Ballard said. "I never [expected] to play on this field. I loved it. It was like a field of dreams."
It was also a field of nightmares.
Boise State held a 36-7 halftime advantage and finished with 500 yards on just 60 plays en route to winning their nation-leading 19th straight game.
The Broncos (5-0) didn't turn the ball once and forced UT into committing five turnovers.
"The key to this game was turnovers," Boise State coach Chris Petersen said. "If we didn't have the turnovers, certainly in the first half, it would have been a much different game."
The Rockets also suffered a key personnel loss.
Sophomore quarterback Austin Dantin left the field on a stretcher after taking a blow to the head on a run up the middle early in the fourth quarter, but he was up walking around and talking on a cell phone while wearing a neck brace after the game.
The early diagnosis of Dantin was a mild concussion and slight neck injury, but Beckman said he'll be re-evaluated today, which will give the coaching staff a better idea of his availability for Saturday's game against Kent State at the Glass Bowl.
If Dantin can't play, redshirt freshman Terrance Owens would be the likely replacement after relieving Dantin against Boise State and last week against Wyoming.
"We'll see how Austin is feeling," Beckman said. "[We might] have to get Alex Pettee and David Pasquale playing a little quarterback [as well]."
UT ends the nonconference portion of its schedule at 1-3, but is still 2-0 in the Mid-American Conference and tied atop the West Division with Northern Illinois.
"We got beat up a little bit, but we've got to rebound and get ready for our conference [games]," Beckman said. "We still have our number one goal, and that's to be MAC champs. Next Saturday is going to be an important game for us."
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