3 Quick takes: This Chambers kid is a gamer
LARAMIE -- He's heard it all.
He can't throw. He has no accuracy. He fires his passes too hard.
Some on social media have even gone as far to say that Sean Chambers cost the Cowboys their two losses this season.
The redshirt freshman quarterback says he doesn't listen to the noise. His sole focus is on winning games. Well, he has excelled in that statistic. Chambers is now 8-2 as a starter after the 23-10 win over New Mexico Saturday afternoon in front of a homecoming crowd of 22,884.
Wyoming is now 5-2 on the season and 2-1 in Mountain West Conference play.
Chambers was not operating at 100 percent today. His legs were banged up. The loss last week in San Diego took a physical toll.
"I thought Sean had a couple of big, big runs today, which were huge," Wyoming head coach Craig Bohl said during his post-game press conference. "He showed a lot of guts and determination because he wasn’t full speed but kept competing."
I would bet New Mexico is shocked to hear that.
Chambers carried the ball 18 times for a game-high 142 yards this afternoon. It's his third 100-yard rushing effort of the season.
He found the end zone once on the ground — a 1-yard sneak to open the scoring — and hit a wide-open Josh Harshman from 15 yards out late in the fourth quarter to put a bow on the victory.
After the pass, which was a perfectly placed loft right into his tight end's hands, Chambers pointed both fingers in the sky. It was his pointer fingers. It could've easily been two digits over.
And who would have blamed him?
All he does is win, make plays with his feet and shut up people like me.
Today, there wasn't much to gripe about. Chambers even attempted 12 passes in the first half, completing seven of them. His final stat line read like this: 9-of-15 passing, 86 yards, touchdown, rushing touchdown.
No one is asking him to throw the ball 35 times a game. That is not the MO of this team. Everyone knew that coming in. The concern came in the form of completion percentage.
Today, Chambers converted on 60 percent of his throws. That is by far his best day in the pocket this season. The next closest was a 41.7 rating, which came in a 53-17 home win over UNLV. Chambers completed just 5-of-12 passes that night.
"I thought it went better," Chambers said with a smile. "I think we were right around 60 percent or something. We showed progress and improvement. I feel good about going into next week."
Yes, the passing game improved against a poor Lobos (2-5, 0-3) secondary. New Mexico entered the game giving up nearly 392 yards per game through the air. Still, the Pokes barely changed their approach.
Where the visitors were solid is in their front seven. They were giving up just 128 yards per game on the ground. That changed in a big way Saturday at War Memorial Stadium.
And Chambers led the charge.
He broke big runs of 40. That's plural. He did it twice, including once early in the second quarter. He was caught from behind at the 11-yard line.
"I don’t know," Chambers laughed when asked if he thought he was going to cruise in for the score. "I wasn’t 100 percent right there. I was trying to just get more yards and get in the end zone. I got caught. Good thing we scored on that drive though."
Xazavian Valladay also eclipsed the century mark in the win, going for 129 yards on 33 carries. He also scored a rushing touchdown.
Keep in mind, these guys did this damage on the ground without arguably their best player, left guard, Eric Abojei, and right tackle, Alonzo Velazquez. These were hard-earned inches, make no mistake.
New Mexico didn't do a lot right on Saturday in Laramie (we'll get to that in a minute) but they played hard. Wyoming -- Chambers in particular -- just wanted it more.
The intangibles are there. The mentality is the right one. The mechanics are evolving. But one thing you can never take away from big No. 12 is his desire, grit and effort.
That was on full display in this one.
What's wrong with Rothe?
What is going on with Wyoming's Lou Groza Award finalist?
A year after connecting on 16-of-17 field goals, Cooper Rothe is in a big time funk. He missed a 47-yard attempt — wide left — in the first half Saturday, then missed his third point-after attempt of the season — wide left — in the third quarter.
Are you seeing a pattern?
Craig Bohl is.
Each kick Rothe has missed this season has been wide left. He has hit just 8 of 13 and converted 20-of-23 point-after attempts. Until the UNLV game, Rothe hadn't missed a PAT since his freshman season.
Bohl is Rothe's position coach. He loves the senior. He believes in him. Numerous times this season, Bohl has said he is hitching his wagon to Rothe no matter what. That's the right attitude to have. Kicking can be more of a mental process than anything.
Rothe might be the coolest customer on this team. He's always smiling. He's engaging. He is a favorite in the locker room. If anyone can bounce back, it's Rothe.
He just needs to prove it.
"He's got to work on that," Bohl said of making extra points, adding that there is some wind in the north end of the stadium. "That single point, that kept harking in my mind as I was counting up the point total."
No mystery to New Mexico's woes
This team gives itself little chance to win games.
The Lobos give the ball to the other team at an alarming rate. They are now a minus-11 on the season after Bryson Carroll fumbled the ball late in the first quarter. Wyoming turned that into a Sean Chambers touchdown run to open the scoring.
Wyoming converted on 11 of 18 third-down attempts in the contest. The most they had in a game prior was eight against Texas State.
The Lobos weren't done aiming the .45 at their big toe quite yet.
They committed some mistimed, unforgivable penalties. Saturday, they had five for 50 yards.
"Offensively, against a good Cowboy defense, we had some opportunities but the high-low chop block hurt us," New Mexico head coach Bob Davies said. "We went for it on 4th and 2 and didn't make it."
Yep, that was a drive killer. And at that point, the Pokes were clinging to a 7-0 lead with the Lobos deep in UW territory.
The epitome of 2019 New Mexico football might have come with the Pokes facing a 4th and 1 of its own.
Did the Lobos stack the line? Nope. Even though everyone in the stadium knew Chambers was going to take a keeper up the gut, New Mexico ran a three-man front — linebackers five yards behind. Yeah, that didn't work.
Six consecutive drives Davies' crew got into Wyoming territory on Saturday. They scored a grand total of three points. And that came on the first play of the fourth quarter.
Quarterback Sheriron Jones drove his team into field-goal range, and Garrett Crall dumped him for a huge sack, taking the Lobos right out of field-goal range.
The visitors converted just 4 of 12 third downs. They dropped wide open passes. Luckily for them, instant replay overturned a fumble for a Cassh Maluia touchdown on the first play from scrimmage.
"I think we made some improvement," Davies said. "We played hard, not well enough to win."
There's a big difference between 5-2, which the Pokes now are, and 2-5, the Lobos new record.
It's easy to see why. Especially if that is considered "improvement."