Wyoming QB Andrew Peasley Focused on Finishing, Finding Extra 2%
LARAMIE -- Andrew Peasley could only helplessly watch as his team dropped a 20-17 heartbreaker to Boise State last November inside a bitterly cold War Memorial Stadium.
A concussion sustained the previous Saturday sidelined the senior quarterback.
His replacement, Jayden Clemons, completed just 3-of-16 throws for 30 yards. He was also picked off three times, the final one a JL Skinner dagger in the end zone with 3o ticks left in regulation.
A victory over the Broncos that night would've vaulted the Cowboys into first place in the Mountain Division standings with one week remaining in the regular season.
The loss dashed all hopes of an elusive conference title.
"Emotionally, it was a pretty big loss for our whole football team, not just me, but everyone," Peasley said. "Last year is last year and we have to move on. I think we've improved all around as a football team since last year, and we have an opportunity to show it."
Wyoming and Boise State will hook up again this Saturday afternoon. This time on the famous blue turf of Albertsons Stadium. This time with Peasley under center.
Arguably no one in the league has been as efficient as the Cowboys' signal caller over his last three outings.
In a 35-26 win over visiting New Mexico, Peasley completed 16-of-25 throws for 194 yards and a touchdown. He also scored on a two-yard scamper into the end zone. He added 183 yards and three touchdowns through the air the following week in a five-point victory over 24th-ranked Fresno State. The La Grande, Oregon product connected on 15-of-25 passes for 212 yards in a loss at Air Force. He again threw three touchdown passes and added another on the ground.
All of this production -- 589 yards passing, seven touchdown throws, 65% completion percentage, 107 rushing yards and two more scores -- came on the heels of a 5-for-15 clunker in a narrow in over Appalachian State. Peasley threw for 31 yards that night and added an interception that was returned for a touchdown.
What has changed?
For one, he's healthy.
Peasley missed Wyoming's road tilt at No. 4 Texas in mid-September with an AC sprain in his throwing shoulder. Now, even head coach Craig Bohl openly questions whether or not his starting QB was physically ready to play in that 22-19 win over the Mountaineers.
A little friendly fire at Air Force aided in a slight ankle ailment. Center Nofoafia Tulafono accidentally stepped on Peasley late in the second quarter.
"It was just a little bruise," he said, lifting up his left pant leg to show the remnants. "I mean, I could feel it, for sure, but I don't think it affected my play. I thought I was pretty mobile and stuff."
Peasley, along with fellow offensive captains Treyton Welch and Wyatt Wieland, called a players-only meeting after the escape job against App State. The theme: What do we want to be as an offense?
Whatever was said behind those closed doors has obviously made a difference.
Bohl said a major emphasis this offseason was adding some balance to this oft struggling offense, something that hasn't happened with regularity since Josh Allen was in the huddle. During this three-game stretch, the combination of pass-run has been impressive.
New Mexico: 31 rush, 25 pass
Fresno State: 35 rush, 28 pass
Air Force: 35 rush, 25 pass
"We have a great deal of confidence in Andrew," Bohl said. "During the course of the year, you've seen him improve, our ability to throw and catch and his reads. I think he's playing at a high level and our receivers are playing at a high level, as well. We're not one dimensional."
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Peasley is responsible for 24 of those 101 rushing attempts listed above. He was limited in that department a season ago thanks to a bulky brace on his right leg and an injury history, along with numerous unknowns in the Cowboys' QB room.
Bohl said Peasley is also now more comfortable than ever in the team's pro-style offensive scheme.
He's completed passes to nine different receivers in two straight games.
The game is slowing down for him, Bohl added.
"I think he's shown that he has the ability to make plays with his legs, make plays with his arm and make plays with his head," he continued. "So, it's a good combination. We're excited about Andrew playing in this game. I think he adds another element. Just like (Boise State is) fairly balanced. We're not exactly balanced in those proportions, but you can no longer put eight guys up there -- or nine guys -- and dare us to throw.
"We can throw it and we can catch it, so that's a big, big advantage for us that we have not had for several years."
On the NCAA website, you have to scroll all the way to Page 3 to find Boise State in the "passing yards allowed" category. The Broncos are allowing 304.3 yards per outing through the air. That ranks them 126th out of 130 teams. Five of the eight leading tacklers are safeties.
In other words, that secondary has been busy.
Despite the extra hours Peasley has put in on the practice fields and in the film room, he said stats don't always tell the whole story.
"I don't have an answer for that, but it's weird to see, obviously," he said of Boise State's defense, which is also allowing 30 points per game. "You know, you're used to Boise being the dominant Mountain West team, but you know, I still think they're good. I think you can't take them lightly.
"... You can't disrespect anyone. We're playing there. I think that's a big deal for them. I think they're on edge right now, too. So, I think they're going to come out ready to play some football and we have to show up."
Peasley said he spent some downtime during the bye week with his wife Maia and his young son, Andrew Navy Peasley Jr. He even snuck in a captain's dinner at Bohl's house. His former Utah State teammate and current Green Bay quarterback Jordan Love also hooked him up with Broncos-Packers tickets last Sunday. That was his first NFL game. He hopes there are more of those in the future.
For now, though, Peasley is focused on helping the Cowboys do something they have never done before -- beat Boise State on the road.
"I really believe that this team is hungry," he said. "You know, we talked about 2% and talked about finishing, but on the other hand, you know, we haven't done anything yet. We're coming off a pretty heartbreaking loss. We just got to finish these last five guaranteed games.
"We have an opportunity to do something special, but we have to go do it."
The Pokes and Broncos are scheduled to kickoff at 3:30 p.m. Mountain Time and the game will be televised on FS2.
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