3 Quick takes: We’re witnessing something special in Valladay
LARAMIE -- Xazavian Valladay didn't even know if he would play in this game.
On Thursday, Wyoming head coach Craig Bohl urged him to do something, anything at practice. Valladay's right knee just wasn't cooperating.
But, this is the Border War.
Valladay carried the ball 27 times for 159 yards on a bitterly cold night at War Memorial Stadium Friday to help lead the Cowboys to a 17-7 victory over rival Colorado State.
It was Valladay's fifth consecutive game with more than 100 yards rushing.
"I feel good right now," Valladay joked during his postgame press conference.
Valladay's latest performance put him over the 1,000-yard mark for the first time in his collegiate career. He became the fourth running back in Bohl's six seasons in Laramie to eclipse that number on the ground.
"I really don't pay attention to stuff like that," he said.
The sophomore running back from Illinois has gone through a brutal five-game stretch. He has been the workhorse. There isn't one other scholarship player at his position that is healthy, or ready to play meaningful snaps.
How busy has Valladay been?
Since the first snap of the New Mexico game way back on Oct. 19, he has carried the ball 148 times. That's an average of nearly 30 a game. The other running backs on the roster carried the ball just 16 times in that span.
"It's been hard. Everything is hard in football," Valladay said. "Our motto is "Cowboy tough." That's why I'm here ... I'm still starting to realize what it actually means."
They should change it to "Valladay tough."
Think about this -- Valladay was the lone tailback on the roster when fall camp started that had even had a carry in a Wyoming uniform. Running backs were falling off the roster all offseason. There was no more Nico Evans.
All anyone knew about Valladay was he torched a lowly New Mexico squad for 192 yards on 22 carries in the 2018 season finale. Valladay finished his first go-round in Laramie with just 396 yards on 71 carries.
He was third on the depth chart last year.
Now, he's inking his name in the Wyoming history books.
Bohl knows how special this kid really is. That's why he urged Valladay to get out and move around at Thursday's practice.
"He's not very big in stature. I think he's 190 pounds, but, boy, he runs strong," Bohl said Friday night. "His knee was nicked up. We thought he'd be able to play, but the other day I told him get out there and do some stuff -- even if you don't feel like it.
"That adrenaline is going to kick in, you're going to get out there playing the CSU Rams and are going to feel good."
He sure looked good against those Rams in this one, too. Yards haven't been easy to come by the last three weeks. Valladay just keeps going in head first.
Levi Williams gets his feet wet
This had been in the plans all week long. True freshman quarterback Levi Williams was going to take some snaps under center.
To alleviate some pressure off the guy above, Valladay.
Williams is quicker than starter Tyler Vander Waal. The coaching staff thought they could get some yardage out of him. Boy, did they.
Williams, who is from Canyon Lake, Texas, got his feet wet -- or frozen -- in a hurry. He carried the ball 13 times for 51 yards. He picked up big first downs. He mowed over guys. He made plays.
He even scored his first collegiate touchdown with 6:06 remaining in the third quarter to give the Cowboys a 14-7 lead.
It was the eventual game-winner.
"It was awesome," Williams smiled. "You dream about it all your life, to get a touchdown in college football. Playing in front of big crowd, the best fans in the country in a seven-degree game -- it was great."
Did I mention this kid is tough?
Wyoming needed one final first down to seal the deal Friday night. All Williams did was break about five tackles and carry two guys deep into the Rams red zone. It was the last play of the game.
The celebration was on.
"I didn't want to go down, that's for sure," he said, flashing that grin again. "I just knew we needed a first down to win the game. When it comes down to it, it was his will against my will. My will prevailed."
This guy might be pretty darn good.
Let's just say Wyoming might have a nice quarterback problem on its hands.
What was he thinking?
I want to preface this missive with this -- the Cowboys defense is legit. They were really good again Friday night.
But what on earth was Colorado State head coach Mike Bobo thinking going for it on 4th and 1 from his own 43-yard line midway through the third quarter?
The Rams defense was solid. At that point in the game, they were getting to the quarterback and limiting the Pokes powerful rushing attack. Why the panic?
Maybe because he had lost his last 11 rivalry games? Well, that call aided in No. 12.
"At that point of the game, that's a huge, major swing of momentum and field position," Bohl said. "We got the stop and flipped the field. It was like coming up with a takeaway."
In other words -- what the hell was that guy thinking?
Ten plays and 44 yards later, Williams was pointing to the sky, celebrating his first career touchdown. That was the dagger.
Logan Wilson, Wyoming's senior linebacker, who picked off Patrick O'Brien late in the fourth quarter, said he wasn't shocked Bobo went for it.
"No, I mean, it's a rivalry game," Wilson said. "You got to do what you got to do to get some yards."
CSU couldn't get one.
Now, they aren't going to a bowl game either.