Three stars of the game: Pokes vs. Golden Hurricane
LARAMIE -- After the 38-6 loss at Illinois last Saturday, it was no simple task to pick deserving candidates for this weekly feature.
That is, however, until you really looked at the numbers. Despite that no-show in Champaign, there were bright spots and areas to build on. An unproven offensive line was solid, John Hoyland continues to be nearly automatic and some youngsters are starting to emerge.
The same can be said for the Cowboys 40-37 double-overtime thriller Saturday afternoon inside War Memorial Stadium.
Andrew Peasley, for the second consecutive week, wasn't sacked. Hoyland stroked 4-of-5 field goals, including a career-best 55-yard stroke that shifted the momentum back to the home sideline. Wyett Ekeler helped hold Tulsa to just 61 rushing yards on 32 attempts. That's an average of just 1.9 yards per carry.
Here's my objective Top 3 from Saturday's home win over the Golden Hurricane:
1st star: Andrew Peasley - Quarterback
Wyoming's embattled signal caller had a forgettable debut.
The following week wasn't much better, according to head coach Craig Bohl, who became emotional during his postgame press conference when discussing the vitriol aimed at the junior after he completed just 5-of-20 passes for 30 yards and a pick in that loss to the Illini.
Peasley bounced back in a big way Saturday.
The Utah State transfer completed his first four passes. They were all underneath routes. In other words, confidence builders. UW offensive coordinator Tim Polasek allowed his QB to get in an early rhythm. That paid major dividends in the later quarters.
On the Cowboys final drive before the half, Peasley connected with wide receiver Will Pelissier on a 48-yard post route. It was the first offensive touchdown of the season. In the fourth, with Wyoming trailing by seven, Peasley once again uncorked a long one. This time from 51 yards out. It landed right in the arms of a streaking Josh Cobbs, who got behind the Tulsa defense.
When the final whistle sounded, Peasley's final stat line read like this: 20-of-30, 256 yards, two touchdowns. It was a career outing for the Oregon native, who was making just his fourth start.
By the way, is this guy a magician when it comes to faking a handoff?
Numerous times he fooled the Illinois defense. Tulsa suffered the same fate. Peasley led the Cowboys in rushing Saturday, carrying the ball 10 times for 45 yards. He already has 121 rushing yards on just 18 attempts this season.
If there is one knock on Peasley's introduction to Laramie, it's that he admittedly still doesn't know the words to Ragtime Cowboy Joe.
"Well, I need to learn the song," he said with a smile. "I probably shouldn't say that."
MORE UW FOOTBALL NEWS:
2nd star: Jordan Bertagnole - Defensive tackle
Can we just take a minute here to appreciate what Jordan Bertagnole has been able to accomplish during his brief career at Wyoming?
The former walk-on from Casper was thrown into the fire in the Cowboys' 2020 season opener in Reno. Thanks to COVID-19 protocols and contact tracing, the visitors' front four was understaffed, to say the least.
Enter No. 96.
A scramble to the official roster ensued. Who is this guy? How do you pronounce that name? Wyoming is in big trouble, aren't they?
All the then-true freshman did that night was tally a pair of tackles, sack Nevada quarterback Carson Strong and recover a fumble. His progression has taken off from there.
In Saturday's win over Tulsa, Bertagnole got the party started early, strip-sacking Davis Brin on the second play from scrimmage. The sophomore swam past the center and was in the backfield in the blink of an eye. The fumble rolled nearly 30 yards in the wrong direction before Easton Gibbs pounced on the loose change.
Bertagnole finished with five tackles and a tackle for loss to go along with that sack and forced fumble. What didn't show up on the stat sheet is the fact the 6-foot-4, 283-pound tackle drew three holding calls and batted down a third-down pass in the first half.
Bohl issued a challenge to his team last Tuesday: Start strong and finish stronger. Bertagnole took those words to heart.
This kid is not only beyond likeable and a Wyoming native, he's becoming a star.
MORE UW FOOTBALL NEWS:
3rd star: Will Pelissier - Wide receiver
Speaking of walk-ons from the Cowboy State, arguably no player had a more impactful coming-out party Saturday than wideout Will Pelissier.
The Big Horn product caught his first-career pass in zero week. It went for five yards. Impressive? Not really. Impactful? You bet.
That initial grab simply served as a confidence booster for the sophomore. He carried that momentum right into War Memorial Stadium against Tulsa, hauling in three catches for 67 yards, including that post route where he breezed past the corner en route to that 48-yard touchdown grab late in the second quarter.
Bohl raved about Pelissier's speed postgame.
It was on display in this one.
Not only did he fly past his defender on that specific play, Pelissier also took a jet sweep around the corner for an 18-yard gain in the first quarter. The Cowboys have a new offensive weapon to play with.
We saw glimpses of it during the 2021 spring game, now we're all seeing it when it counts.
Honorable mention: Clayton Stewart - Punter
If Peasley's dismal performance in Illinois was rivaled, that dishonor belonged to Wyoming's newly crowned starting punter, Clayton Stewart.
The Texas State transfer, who won the job over incumbent Ralph Fawaz in the offseason, punted eight times in Champaign. A pair of those went for just 22 yards. He did get off two that traveled more than 50 yards, but capped his day with an average of only 38.2. It was not pretty. The Illini took full advantage of that prime field position all afternoon.
A different Stewart showed up to the ballyard Saturday.
The 6-foot-1, 220-pound junior bumped up his average by nearly 10 full yards. He dropped three of those kicks inside the Tulsa 20-yard line, including one inside the five. Stewart also flipped the field with a trio of boots over 50 yards.
Bohl always says field position is married to wins. Stewart did his part in the team's first victory of the season.
University of Wyoming’s Top 50 Football Players
- University of Wyoming’s Top 50 Football Players