Turning point, unsung hero and what’s next for UW football
RENO, Nev., -- You're not the only one perplexed -- or, let's be real, downright pissed off -- about Wyoming's road woes this fall.
Why have the Cowboys been so bad? Let us all know if you find out.
We do know the teams they have lost to away from War Memorial Stadium -- Texas, Air Force, Boise State and UNLV -- are now a combined 35-13 this season, including a 20-3 record on their home turf.
Second-half scoring has also been a major issue. There was a six-point outing in Colorado Springs. Goose eggs in Boise and Las Vegas.
We also know quarterback play in that white jersey hasn't been up to par.
Andrew Peasley will be the first to admit that.
He didn't play in that 31-10 loss at Texas in September, dealing with an AC sprain in this throwing shoulder. He did appear in the other three, though, completing just over 53% of his passes. The numbers don't scream awful -- six total touchdowns, two interceptions and 441 passing yards -- but the senior expects more.
After an 11-of-22 performance at UNLV that included just 144 yards through the air and a crucial interception, Peasley was in a foul mood. That pick came on the goal line with the Cowboys threatening to tie up the game just before half and erase a 21-point deficit.
"He's hard on himself," Wyoming head coach Craig Bohl said after last week's dominating 42-9 victory over Hawaii. Peasley completed 14-of-17 balls for a career-high 319 yards and three touchdowns in that rout. "... While he was competitive, he sat in my office and he was visibly shaking, he was so mad. His competitive nature, he goes, 'I hate to lose and I hate to not perform well. I've thought about it for two days. I can hardly sleep.'
"You know he's going to be in your foxhole."
Peasley took out some frustration on the Rainbow Warriors in Week 12. That continued Saturday on a chilly night inside Mackay Stadium in Reno.
On the fourth play of the Cowboys' second drive, Peasley took the shotgun snap and tucked the ball into the belly of running back Harrison Waylee. His eyes never wavered from the right side of Nevada's defensive front. Those guys were occupied and outnumbered.
Peasley took advantage, flying through a gaping hole and cruising into the end zone untouched from 43 yards out.
Wyoming could've stopped right there and claimed its first 8-win regular season since 2016.
The senior signal caller had more work to do.
On the ensuing possession, Peasley utilized the play action, sat confidently in the pocket and stepped into a 34-yard dime that landed in the awaiting arms of wide receiver Will Pelissier, who had badly beaten his man in the slot.
Peasley and this Cowboys' offense were opportunistic in this one, scoring three touchdowns after a Wolf Pack fumble and a pair of turnovers on downs. A Wyoming helmet caused the loose change on the second half kick return.
Five plays later Peasley lofted a perfectly placed nine-yard pass onto the outside shoulder of Ayir Asante, who hauled in his team-leading sixth touchdown of the year.
Waylee also punched in an easy two-yard score on the ground in the third quarter, capping a six-play, 44-yard drive. Peasley took care of the third touchdown, beating a Nevada defender to the pylon from three yards out. That was the 12th play of that possession that rolled up 82 yards and took 6:19 off the game clock.
Peasley finished his night with 12 completions on 18 attempts through the air. That equated to 165 yards. He also tossed those two touchdown passes. The Oregon product also totaled 96 yards with his legs. That took just nine attempts. He also added two scores on the ground.
He did all of that in just three-plus quarters before the torch was eventually passed to Evan Svoboda.
"He was on top of it," Bohl said postgame, referring to Peasley. "He can really run and we were going to utilize his legs. He certainly did that. Then he threw the ball well. The other thing he's doing, he's getting us in and out of so many plays.
"... It just shows you his maturity."
Since that meeting in Bohl's office, Peasley has thrown five touchdown passes, rushed for two more and hasn't turned the ball over once. He's completing nearly 75% of his throws.
Most importantly, the Cowboys are 2-0.
Bohl said he always treats his team to ice cream bars on the plane ride home after a win. It's become a tradition during his 10-year tenure on the high plains. It's one that has been underutilized -- to say the least -- of late.
Now, that six-game skid is in the rear view. Grab a cone.
"It's been a long time coming," he said.
Wyoming 42, Nevada 6
Tyce Westland wasn't a household name coming into this season.
In fact, when it came to the defensive end position, Bohl and Co. boasted about the offseason Sabastian Harsh had and how dominant he had been throughout spring and fall camp. We saw flashes from Braden Siders last season. DeVonne Harris has been steady from the minute he stepped on the field back in 2020.
Who is this Westland guy?
The former Kearney (Neb.) Hub 6/8-Man Player of the Year, who lined up at linebacker and wide receiver -- he also took some snaps at quarterback and running back -- was projected to become an edge rusher in Laramie.
Now we all know why.
In tonight's blowout win over Nevada, Westland's stats weren't mind-blowing, but both of his tackles were impactful.
One was a tackle for loss on a 4th-and-1 draw play. The Pleasanton product penetrated the Wolf Pack front and stopped quarterback Shane Illingworth dead in his tracks. That turnover on downs turned into a Waylee touchdown six snaps later.
Westland also registered half-a-sack in this one.
The 6-foot-5, 235-pound sophomore now has 17 tackles, 0.5 sacks, a forced fumble and a recovery this season.
“This is a really good win for us. We had a lot of explosive plays tonight and anytime you can score on defense, that's huge. I know Wyett Ekeler sometimes gets frustrated he can't intercept it, but you certainly saw his running ability. I saw it in high school down there in Windsor."
-- Wyoming head coach Craig Bohl talking about safety Wyett Ekeler's second-quarter interception for a touchdown.
Wyoming (8-4, 5-3) will await its postseason fate. Will the Cowboys travel to New Mexico, Texas, Arizona or Idaho? The Mountain West has bowl ties in California and Hawaii. There are other options, too. As of now, we wait.
University of Wyoming’s Top 50 Football Players
Gallery Credit: 7220Sports.com
- University of Wyoming’s Top 50 Football Players