Evan Svoboda Bringing the Grit to Wyoming’s QB room
LARAMIE -- What comes to Evan Svoboda's mind when he hears the stat line: 4-of-14, 24 yards and an interception?
"Not good," Wyoming's sophomore quarterback said, adding a slight head shake. "It's not enough. It's definitely not good."
Those were the final spring game numbers for the Arizona product in 2022. This time around, his day ended like this: 8-of-14, 63 yards passing and a pick.
Alarmed? Don't be.
Craig Bohl was the first to admit that latest outing inside War Memorial Stadium was a golden opportunity for Svoboda to showcase what he can do in a real-game environment, but no matter the outcome that late April afternoon, Wyoming's head coach said it wouldn't define his overall body of work.
Practices are closed to the media and public, but Bohl said they have charted every throw that has come off the big right arm of the 6-foot-5, 245-pound signal caller.
"We chart everything and he has played really well," Bohl said. "He has a good completion percentage. The other thing he can do is he can put the ball in places on the field that, you know, (not many quarterbacks can).
"He's wearing No. 17. I'm not saying he's the No. 17 -- it was a pretty bold statement for him to want that number -- But he can place the ball where we have not been able to place it for some time."
Bohl, of course, is referring to Josh Allen's digits. He is the last guy under center in Laramie to eclipse the 3,000-yard mark through the air in a single season. In fact, Allen is the last QB to throw for more than 1,600 yards in a Cowboys uniform.
Svoboda's arm strength has become a thing of legend on the practice fields. Caleb Merritt, a redshirt freshman wide receiver, could only laugh when that subject came up.
"He throws it harder than hell," he said. "It just stings your whole hand, like it's frozen for a second. You don't even realize the ball is in your hands. It's crazy."
What about that long ball we keep hearing about?
"He's definitely the most talented when it comes to throwing the deep ball," Merritt continued. "I like that about him. He'll throw the ball deep and give you a chance no matter what. He'll just let you run underneath it and catch it."
Merritt also spoke about Svoboda's wheels. Yes, even at that size, the Snow College transfer can move.
"He's a hard dude to tackle, man," Merritt said.
Svoboda received the bulk of the workload behind incumbent Andrew Peasley during the Cowboys' 15 practices this spring. Offensive coordinator Tim Polasek said "It's our only choice."
What does that mean?
In layman's terms, college football is now a business. Svoboda's eligibility clock is ticking. This staff needs to know what they have in this guy. Does that mean Jayden Clemons' time is up? Not necessarily. He appeared in three games last season and led Wyoming to a Border War victory in Fort Collins.
They know what he can do.
"I'm trying to make it tough on those guys because it's the only way you can grow," Polasek said. "But (Svoboda) seems to respond the way you want him to ... He'll make a poor decision or make a poor throw, but he usually comes back and responds pretty good. That's probably the No. 1 thing I've learned (about him), because I think the No. 1 quality of a quarterback is -- can they fix things? You know, can they fix an issue? Can they make something out of nothing? You know, you got to have a certain amount of playmaking there."
Svoboda, according to Polasek, has proven he can do that, pointing to the fact earlier in the day he picked up a critical third-and-fourth down with his feet.
"We have to have quarterback grit," he added. "You have to keep us on the field ... We have got to improve there to create more opportunities for the offense."
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So, where has Svoboda shown the most improvement?
Merritt said he is starting to go through all of his progressions. Bohl said he's starting to scare defenses with his raw arm talent. Polasek said his internal clock and pocket presence has improved. His roommate, tight end John Michael Gyllenborg, said Svoboda's decisiveness and comfortability in the offense has also gotten better.
"It's more about just calming down and just doing your thing for him instead of being wired," he added. "We're kind of in the same boat there."
What does the man himself think about his trajectory?
"I've developed a lot," Svoboda said. "I've gotten a lot smarter, a lot bigger, a lot stronger and a lot more comfortable. I'll say, last year, I was really overwhelmed coming in, you know, playing at the Division-I level. The speed of the game is so much faster. You know, kids are bigger, smarter. Being here for a year now, you know, I'm much more comfortable.
"It's been really fun."
Bohl declined to release a depth chart before last season's opener at Illinois. Many figured Peasley would be the guy followed by Svoboda. After all, he has all the measurables. UW's head man once again talked about that infamous jersey number and the jaw-dropping deep balls in the offseason, yet Svoboda never saw the field.
There are plenty of reasons for that: playbook, gelling with new teammates, making plays at the highest level of college football, reading defenses, etc.
Those issues, Svoboda noted, are a thing of the past.
"I really just started playing football again," he said. "It's not being like a statue out there. It's really about moving around and just executing."
Sounds like another No. 17, huh?
The importance of this offseason isn't lost on Svoboda. He knows that sand is slowly trickling in the hourglass. Still, his mind often wanders, thinking about the day he does get that shot. Football, he said, is always on his mind.
"I'm a fan and I love the game so much," he said. "I'm always dreaming about the big plays -- me just making those big plays -- and what I can do with this game one day."
University of Wyoming’s Top 50 Football Players
- University of Wyoming’s Top 50 Football Players