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September 16, 2011TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) Boise State is well aware of how close Toledo came to knocking off Ohio State last week, just about eliminating any chance that the No. 4 Broncos will be looking past the Rockets on Friday night.
The Broncos, who didn't play last weekend after a season-opening 35-21 win over Georgia, got a chance to watch their next opponent a little more than usual.
They came away a bit surprised and impressed after Toledo scored 15 first-quarter points and came within a play or two of upsetting their in-state rival before losing to the Buckeyes 27-22, in Columbus.
"It caught everybody on the team's attention," said Matt Miller, who became the first freshman receiver to start a season opener under coach Chris Petersen at Boise State. "They probably should have beat Ohio State so we're not going to take them lightly."
It was a nicely timed wake-up call for the Broncos (1-0) who played Toledo a year ago in Boise, and coasted to a 57-14 victory.
Boise State cornerback Jerrell Gavins said the Rockets showed they have more athletes than he expected.
"I actually thought Ohio State was going to blow them out," he said. "I probably shouldn't say that, but they played a pretty good game."
Gavins insisted that the Broncos weren't overlooking the Rockets even before their close call.
"Our preparation hasn't changed," he said.
The focus for the Boise State defense will likely be on Toledo receiver Eric Page who caught 12 passes for 145 yards last week and also threw for a two-point conversion.
The Rockets (1-1) like to hit the small and shifty Page with short passes and let him use his speed. He turned a short catch into a 66-yard touchdown at Ohio State. He's also scored on three kickoff returns in his first two seasons.
Page thinks he can score any time he gets the ball.
"If you don't have that approach," he said, "you don't have the right mindset."
Gavins said it's different covering a smaller receiver than a bigger wideout.
"It changes a lot," he said. "Me being smaller, I can relate to him. I'm just as fast as he is, I'm just as quick as he is, so I have to just be a little more patient when I'm sticking him."
Page caught 11 passes for 120 yards against the Broncos a year ago.
"We knew about him loud and clear last year and couldn't seem to slow him down even," Petersen said. "You're not going to stop him, he's too good."
Boise State spent part of its bye week working on its defense after giving up a handful of big scoring plays against Georgia - though defense is hardly a weak spot for the Broncos. They did get six sacks against Georgia and bottled up its running game.
And on Thursday, Boise State officials said the NCAA reinstated starting senior safety Cedric Febis, who flew with the team to Toledo. Febis was held out of the team's opener over questions about his eligibility.
The NCAA continues, however, to review the eligibility of two other Broncos, wide receiver Geraldo Boldewijn and defensive tackle Ricky Tjong-A-Tjoe. They didn't fly to Toledo.
Peterson plans to continue using backup freshman quarterback Grant Hedrick to spell starter Kellen Moore, one of the nation's top passers, and give opposing defenses something else to worry about.
Hedrick came in during a couple of key plays against Georgia and ran for 18 yards. Peterson said he could see Hedrick was nervous when the coaches told him to get ready.
"His face went white and the blood drained out of his face," Peterson said. "We shoved him out there and away he went."
Toledo coach Tim Beckman, who led the Rockets to a bowl game last year in just his second season, said he's tried to model some of the things he does after Boise State, including playing multiple players at different positions and using multiple formations.
Austin Dantin and Terrance Owens share time for Toledo at quarterback. Dantin has started the Rockets' first two games, but it was Owens who came in for the final drive against Ohio State and nearly led them to a victory.
Peterson said he admires how Toledo uses the two quarterbacks at any time.
"They don't even kind of worry about it," he said. "That's a little bit of our mentality around here."
Toledo likes to mix in a few gadget plays, too.
"It's something we're constantly practicing," said Beckman, who added that it's something his players really like. "We talk about doing it all the time. They probably want do it more."
The Rockets will be hurting on defense, though, especially at linebacker. Dan Molls, their leading tackler a year ago, will miss his second straight game and Robert Bell, a starter at weakside linebacker, is questionable. Cornerback Taikwon Paige is doubtful after suffering an injury at Ohio State.
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