Toledo’s Back-Up QB Has Cowboys Undivided Attention
LARAMIE -- How much different will this high-powered Toledo offense look without Dequan Finn under center in the Arizona Bowl?
Different? Certainly. Bad? Hardly.
"The quarterback that we are expecting to play, he's a lot better than what we were hoping he would be," Wyoming defensive coordinator Jay Sawvel said. "I still think they can be really effective."
That man is Tucker Gleason -- and the sophomore signal caller has some experience. He will replace Finn, the Most Valuable Player in the MAC this fall, who entered the NCAA Transfer Portal in early December and has since signed with Baylor. Finn and the Rockets' offense averaged 426.2 yards per game, landing in the 33rd spot in that category in the FBS.
Gleason is no stranger to stepping up when called upon.
Filling in for an injured Finn against Western Michigan in late September, Gleason completed 6-of-10 throws for 109 yards and connected on a pair of touchdown tosses to Jerjuan Newton and Cooper Rusk on consecutive third-quarter drives to overcome a 10-point second-half deficit.
Toledo upended the Broncos inside the Glass Bowl 49-31 that day and eventually swept its way through the regular-season conference slate.
"He throws the ball with good rhythm. He throws it in good timing," Sawvel added. "I thought there were times that the one that is leaving there, held the ball a long time and relied on his athleticism and stuff like that. I think they can be much more in rhythm as an offense and do those things. He's got a good arm."
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Thrust into a starting role, Gleason threw for 238 yards and three scores in a 27-24 victory at Eastern Michigan in 2022. The 6-foot-3, 235-pound Georgia Tech transfer was named the MAC West Offensive Player of the Week after that outing in which he completed 15-of-27 passes.
Finn, according to Sawvel, was more dangerous with his legs. The numbers bear that out. The junior rushed for 563 yards and seven scores while operating the Rockets' spread attack, averaging nearly five yards per carry in the process.
Gleason is more comfortable in the pocket, but that doesn't mean he can't tuck it and go.
In a loss to Bowling Green last November, he gashed the Falcons for 106 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. That came on just 17 carries. He also added 329 yards and three more scores through the air in a 42-35 setback.
"They're still going to be a really good team," safety Wyett Ekeler said. "Their backup quarterback, as we've discussed in our meetings, throws a lot more on time. The other quarterback was more of a movement guy, like he'd make a lot of plays because he could scramble a lot. But this guy, he has really good timing. He gets to that back step and fires. We'll definitely have to bring our 'A game' against these guys."
Gleason has appeared in three games this fall. He's completed 14-of-21 balls for 199 yards and four touchdowns. He hasn't been picked off once.
He certainly has the Cowboys undivided attention.
After all, it was a back-up QB, Ohio's CJ Harris, who threw for 184 yards and two touchdowns, including a perfect 10-yard strike in overtime to tight end Tyler Foster, to knock off Wyoming 30-27 in the desert last December.
"He's very, very capable," head coach Craig Bohl said, referring to Gleason. "He's a dual-threat quarterback, he's got a live arm and he's a big, strong guy who runs well and operates their offense."
Wyoming (8-4, 5-3) and Toledo (11-2, 8-0) will meet Saturday inside Arizona Stadium in Tucson. Kickoff is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. Mountain Time and the game will be televised on The CW and streamed at barstoolsports.com.
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