Elliott, Panthers prepped for Pokes rushing attack
TUCSON, Ariz., -- Shawn Elliott hasn't spent a whole lot of free time watching film on his next opponent.
Georgia State's head coach grinned when asked what he expects from Wyoming in the Arizona Bowl Tuesday afternoon in Tucson.
He said it all in two words -- "Tough. Physical."
The Cowboys have rushed the ball 528 times this fall. Wyoming quarterbacks have attempted just 230 passes. Xazavian Valladay, behind a bruising front five, has racked up 1,061 yards on the ground during his sophomore season.
For Elliott, it's no secret what's in store at Arizona Stadium.
"I know the style of football they play. I've seen them," Elliott said. "We had a crossover game with Texas State. Hard working, I can imagine. If I were to close my eyes and picture them in the off-season, I would see tough, rugged, in the weight room, just sweat everywhere, just blue collar."
Despite true freshman Levi Williams earning his first start under center Tuesday, Elliott doesn't sound convinced the Cowboys will attempt a balanced attack offensively.
"It's not tough at all," Elliott said about adjusting to a new Wyoming quarterback. "They have a system that they believe in, and they're going to go with that system. You don't just wholesale change something because of one individual. You certainly play with two different talents, but the game plan will be the same."
Wyoming head coach Craig Bohl said during his Monday morning press conference Williams adds a new element to the Cowboys offense that wasn't there with Tyler Vander Waal, who will be Wyoming's back-up quarterback against the Panthers.
He can run the ball.
And he's effective, too.
In just 28 rushing attempts this season, Williams has 128 yards, including a long of 38 in the regular-season finale at Air Force. He scored his first collegiate touchdown on a one-yard plunge against rival Colorado State the previous week.
"There's something you can account for when your quarterback is not a mobile quarterback, but Levi has that," Bohl said. "What has progressed is his ability to be more confident in the passing game, where his reach could take the football ...
"And so while I say we need to throw the ball better, the decision for him to play and start was not necessarily on the back of a kid like Levi, who's a good passer. We just feel like we can open the playbook."
GSU nose tackle Dontae Wilson echoed his coach's sentiments when it comes to Wyoming's high-powered rushing attack.
They know the game plan.
But can they stop it?
GSU has given up 212 rushing yards per game this season. That's an average of 5.3 yards per carry. It ranks the Panthers 116th out of 130 FBS teams.
"We know they're big and strong up front and have some good running backs and use mobile quarterbacks," Wilson said. "We know they're run-first offense. We're just really keen on stopping the run first and getting ourselves in passing situations where we can get after the quarterback."
A reporter asked Wilson if he likes what should be one of the most physical games of the bowl season.
Elliott took that question.
"He'd better," the head coach laughed. "If not, he isn't playing."
Kickoff from Tucson is set for 2:30 p.m. MST