3 Quick takes: UW has a problem on its hands … a good one
TUCSON, Ariz., -- Now, let's not get carried away here.
In his first career start as a Cowboy, Levi Williams looked impressive. At times, really impressive. But he also made some rookie mistakes, one that was costly and took points off the board in the first half.
Let's not crown him quite yet.
Let's talk about the good stuff.
Williams was drawing comparisons to a guy who wore No. 17 in Laramie after he rolled to his right, took a huge hit from a defender and launched the ball down the sidelines into the awaiting arms of Ayden Eberhardt.
The junior receiver turned up field, dodged a tackle and outraced the Panther's secondary into the end zone.
It definitely had an Allen-to-Gentry feel to it. That's undeniable.
"He was composed, made a lot of big plays," Wyoming head coach Craig Bohl said. "Had a couple of things that we wish we could have had back. For freshmen, or for any quarterback, I thought he played with great poise and composure."
Williams also tossed a perfect strike into the chest of Austin Conway for his first career touchdown pass in the first. He followed that up with a nice eight-yard toss -- with some touch -- to Xazavian Valladay.
Three receivers, three touchdowns. The last time a Wyoming quarterback threw for three scores in a game was the aforementioned Josh Allen, who did that against Central Michigan in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.
The last Cowboy signal caller to throw three in a half?
That was Allen, too. He threw four touchdowns in the second quarter during a 42-3 home victory over New Mexico in 2017.
Williams certainly impressed his starting running back.
"He was a great leader," Valladay said. "Being just a freshman, stepping up on the big stage like this, just being able to just to do the things a quarterback, they have to do, just knowing everything and where everybody has to be on the field. My hat's off to him. He has a bright future."
Williams showed poise, toughness in the pocket and when he scrambled, and even turned some heads with the velocity behind his throws. He finished the night 11-of-26 for 234 yards and those three touchdowns. He also ran one in from six yards out late in the third quarter to put this one out of reach.
The Canyon Lake, Texas, product also rushed the ball 12 times for 53 yards. Aside from a 20-yard burst, these yards were hard-earned.
The most overlooked stat of the night was 11-of-17. That's how many third down conversions Williams aided in.
Now, let's discuss the not-so-good moments.
There weren't many of them, but the loft toward the goal line off his back foot with pressure in his face was the ultimate rookie miscue. It's right up there with throwing across your body. Allen got away with it -- at times -- Williams won't.
With the Cowboys threatening to put this game on ice early, Quavian White snagged the easy interception and returned it 25 yards. Williams also took a costly sack and tried fitting in a couple of passes that many should've been picked off.
So, what does it all mean? Well, nothing right now. But the chatter has already begun:
Will there be a quarterback battle this spring and into next fall?
A lot depends on the health of redshirt freshman Sean Chambers, who is still on crutches. Can he come back 100-percent healthy? Can he continue to play the way he is used to without getting injured?
That same question can be asked of Williams, who took a few healthy shots from Georgia State defenders tonight.
Wyoming should open up the quarterback competition. Or they should at least lie to all of us about it. Iron sharpens iron, is what Craig Bohl and Co. like to promote. Well, let these two push each other and may the best man win.
Williams showed that he can step up in big moments. Chambers has that "it factor," too.
"Some people may think it was a bold step, playing a freshman quarterback," Bohl said. "It really wasn't, in effect. I thought it was the right move. It was great experience for him and we're glad that he's here."
Let the debate begin.
Big uglies lead the way
We figured the Cowboys offensive line would be a tad cranky after their less-than-stellar performance in the season finale against Air Force.
They weren't the only ones. Wyoming's tight ends and fullbacks wanted to get that taste out of their mouths, too.
Tuesday, they bullied Georgia State for most of the afternoon, leading the way to 290 rushing yards against the Panthers. GSU entered the contest allowing 212 per game, but head coach Shawn Elliott said his team was prepared for the Pokes downhill running game.
Valladay led the Cowboys with 204 yards on 26 carries. That's an average of 7.8 yards per carry. He scored twice and broke long runs of 63 and 62 yards in the second half. Both drives ended in touchdowns.
Williams also got in on the act, rushing for 53 yards and a score.
This unit is just going to get better. Wyoming's staff loaded up on big men during the recruiting process and not one current member of this line is a senior.
I already feel bad for the Cowboys' 2020 opening day opponent, Weber State.
You showed up
Part of what makes Wyoming so special is it's lack of population and the underdog mentality that it creates.
The Cowboys certainly weren't the underdog Tuesday -- on the field or in the stands.
Thousands of fans made the trip to Tucson, filling up one entire side of 57,000-seat Arizona Stadium. Officially, 36,892 fans filed in to the home of the Arizona Wildcats on a sun-spanked, 62-degree day in the desert.
Brown and gold was everywhere. In the bars, restaurants and especially in tailgate alley. The Cowboy Joe Club bash was bursting at the seams. "Ragtime Cowboy Joe" echoed throughout campus. So did the "Beer song." Bohl said this was a chance to celebrate the season with the Wyoming fans.
It was all of that, and more.
Arizona Bowl representatives raved about the Cowboys' fan support and thanked as many people as they could for making the trip. It was nothing short of a home game for the Pokes.
Call it War Memorial Southwest.