How critical are these final two games for Levi?
LARAMIE -- Tatum Stall will be wearing brown and gold in the stands tonight inside Maverik Stadium.
Why is that significant?
The Arizona product is the outside hitter on Utah State's volleyball team. She is also Levi Williams' girlfriend.
"She's pretty good about keeping things separate," Wyoming's redshirt freshman quarterback joked when asked if he has gotten any rivalry razzing from Stall.
Williams doesn't wear Aggies gear when he supports her though, right?
"No," he said. "She made me a shirt with her face on it."
Yes, this meeting with Utah State is personally a special one for Williams, but there's a greater purpose tonight in Logan. The Cowboys have lost five of their last six. Postseason hopes are on life support. Williams, who is making his fourth straight start, is still in the process of proving that he is the future quarterback of this program.
So, just how critical are these final two regular season games ahead for the Texas native?
"I'm not really worried about that," he said. "I'm just worried about winning these games for the team and the state. My focus is on being bowl eligible and winning these games."
Since Williams replaced Sean Chambers under center before the Oct. 30 road tilt with San Jose State, he has completed 57.3% of his passes. He has connected with wide receiver Isaiah Neyor on five touchdown passes and thrown for 377 yards.
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Williams has also proved once again that he can be a dynamic, powerful runner.
He has 36 carries in the Cowboys' previous three outings. Williams has rolled up 187 yards, including a 43-yard touchdown jaunt in a 31-17 victory over Border War rival, Colorado State. He added a 52-yard run against the Rams, too.
"I did run the 300-meter hurdles in high school," Williams joked. "Right now, that's helping out a lot. That was back when I wasn't even 200 pounds. I've put on a little bit since.
"My girlfriend always tells me put on my track shoes."
He will need them in a game against a resurgent Aggies squad that has gone 8-2 in Blake Anderson's first season on the sidelines in Logan.
Utah State features one of the top offensive units in the country. On the other side of the ball, however, Williams and the Cowboys' offense could have an opportunity to get things back on track against the 94th-ranked pass defense in the nation. The Aggies also give up 150 rushing yards an outing.
Craig Bohl stuck with his "one-game-at-a-time" mantra when asked just how important these final two outings are for Williams, instead focusing on where the young 6-foot-5, 224-pound signal caller has made the biggest strides in his late-season audition.
"You know, certainly, he's improved as far as his decision making," Wyoming's eight-year head coach said. "That goes from everything from managing the offense to where he's placing the football ... There are a couple throws that I think everybody wished that he might have had back. I think he's understanding his ability to run and what type of runner he is, so we're encouraged."
Bohl also pointed to the unquestioned chemistry that has formed between Williams and fellow Texan, Neyor. That duo has hooked up for 281 yards through the air this season.
The Wyoming quarterback room is loaded with youth.
Chambers, a redshirt sophomore, still has two years of eligibility remaining. Hank Gibbs and Jayden Clemons has three. Gavin Beerup, who appeared in two games for the Cowboys in 2020, also has four seasons remaining in Laramie.
Williams will be making his 10th career start tonight.
Last fall, he appeared in all six games, starting five in a COVID-19-shortened campaign. A significant right shoulder injury sustained in a Week 2 win over Hawaii hampered Williams over the final four games. His first career start came in the Arizona Bowl in 2019. That afternoon in Tucson, Williams completed 11-of-26 passes for 234 yards and three touchdowns. He rushed for another in a 38-17 victory over Georgia State.
Has he done enough to prove he's the answer in Wyoming's prostyle offense?
"We're pleased with his progress. He's not a finished product," Bohl said. "He's working hard and coach (Tim) Polasek is doing a good job for him. We're in hopes that, you know, he continues to stay healthy.
"This will be a big, big ball game for him. Whenever you go on the road -- it's always somewhat challenging for a lot of players -- but I think particularly for the quarterback position, because you're dealing with elements that you're not quite used to. So we feel like he's up to the task. We're excited to see how he plays."
Stall and the Co-Mountain West volleyball champions held on for a five-set win over the Cowgirls this afternoon in Logan.
She got her win.
Can Williams repay the favor?
That's the plan.
Kickoff from Maverik Stadium is slated for 6 p.m. MT. The game can be seen on CBS Sports Network.
University of Wyoming’s Top 50 Football Players
- University of Wyoming’s Top 50 Football Players