Rockets ready for Broncs

Game planis years old

9/15/2011
BY ZACH SILKA
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Boise State running back D.J. Harper bulls his way for a seven-yard gain against the University of Georgia in a game Sept. 3 at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. Harper carried eight times for 44 yards, scoring a TD.
Boise State running back D.J. Harper bulls his way for a seven-yard gain against the University of Georgia in a game Sept. 3 at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. Harper carried eight times for 44 yards, scoring a TD.

This week wasn't the first time and won't be the last that University of Toledo football coach Tim Beckman spends a lot of time dissecting the Boise State Broncos.

Long before the Rockets played in Boise last season, Beckman developed an affinity for the fourth-ranked Broncos, who visit the Glass Bowl tomorrow night for a nationally televised matchup against UT.

While working as the defensive coordinator at Bowling Green State University from 1998-2004, just as the Boise State program was taking off, Beckman began studying other successful mid-major programs so that when his time came to be a head coach, he would be able to hit the ground running.

In particular, Beckman respected the teams that seemed to go from the ground floor to the skydeck in a short order.

"When I wanted to become a head football coach, I looked at programs that seemed to build and then all of a sudden they're really good," Beckman said. "That [Boise State] program has certainly done that."

Since taking over the helm at Toledo, Beckman has often preached about the Rockets becoming a "BCS buster" like Boise State, TCU, and Utah.

"It's definitely [a program] I've looked up to," Beckman said of Boise State. "They've done it in a short amount of time, to take their program and be as dominant as they've been since even before coach [Chris] Petersen.

Since 1999, just three years after their move to the Division I-A level, the Broncos have gone 134-21 (.865), won 10 conference championships and played in 11 bowl games.

In five-plus seasons under Petersen, Boise State is 62-5 (.925) and has ascended to the top echelon of college football, despite what the doubters may say.

"They're BCS busters," Beckman said. "That's what they've done and these players [at UT] will tell you that we've talked about that."

As for what aspects of the Boise State program that Beckman has tried to replicate with the Rockets, it's in how the Broncos utilize their reserves.

"I like the way that they play [a lot of players]," Beckman said. "I think that's one of the things that college football is going to more and more. The fact that they do that is something that we have definitely looked at here with this coaching staff."

In their first face-to-face meeting with the Broncos last year, the Rockets were overwhelmed in a 57-14 rout.

Nonetheless, Beckman and his players said the experience was worth it because he and his team got to see how the Boise State program operated on a firsthand basis.

"It was eye-opening," UT running back Adonis Thomas said. "I really didn't know how intense they played and how we have to match their intensity in order to win. It was a good experience, and we learned a lot from it. It helped us get our minds focused for the rest of the season and now for [tomorrow's] game."

MEET-N-GREET: Before tomorrow's game against Boise State, the UT women's basketball team will hold a "Meet the Rockets" event at Savage Arena from 6-7 p.m.

Fans will have the chance to meet the entire team and coaching staff, get autographs, and participate in a free clinic for children in the eighth grade and younger.

Contact Zach Silka at: zsilka@theblade.com, 419-724-6084 or on Twitter @ZachSilka.