Cowboys will start Williams at QB in Arizona Bowl
December 26, 2019
What: Wyoming (7-5) vs. Georgia State (7-5)
When: 2:30 p.m. Tuesday
Where: Arizona Stadium, Tucson, Arizona
TV: CBS Sports Network
Radio: KFBC (97.5 FM, 1240 AM), Cheyenne; KOWB (1290 AM), Laramie
TUCSON, Ariz. – University of Wyoming true freshman quarterback Levi Williams will make his first career start today against Georgia State in the Arizona Bowl, coach Craig Bohl announced Monday.
Williams, a Texas native and three-star recruit in the class of 2019, has played in the past two games for the Cowboys and is 8 of 13 passing for 109 yards and an interception. Williams has also run for 128 yards and a touchdown. Bohl said Williams' dual-threat ability allows the team to "open the playbook."
"We made a determination going into this game that Levi is going to give us the best opportunity to win," Bohl said at a news conference Monday morning. "He has continued to embrace our offense. ... He came off the scout team several weeks ago and was integrated in to our game plan, and what has occurred during that time (is) he has embraced our offense."
Redshirt sophomore Tyler Vander Waal started the previous four games for UW following redshirt freshman quarterback Sean Chambers' season-ending left knee injury sustained against Nevada. Vander Waal, who started nine games in 2018, has thrown for 512 yards this season with one touchdown and four interceptions. Vander Waal entered the transfer portal earlier this month, but has been with the team through bowl practices.
Bohl said Vander Waal's decision to enter the transfer portal did not play into his decision to start Williams today.
"We're really thankful for Tyler. Tyler has done everything that we've asked him to do," Bohl said. "Sometimes, there's some bad feelings that occur one way or the other. That's really not the case with our football team, with Tyler ... We're excited about where Tyler's going to go in the future. We've got one more game with him."
Williams saw his first action of the season in UW's 17-7 Border War victory over Colorado State. He threw just two passes in the game but helped secure the victory with a first down run late in the fourth quarter. He saw increased action at Air Force, completing 6 of 11 passes for 84 yards while rushing for 79 yards. He enrolled at UW last spring, which has helped his development, Bohl said.
As a senior at Smithson Valley High in 2018, Williams threw for 3,239 yards and 32 touchdowns and ran for an additional 1,230 yards and 16 touchdowns.
"He is different. Levi is so poised and calm for us," senior wide receiver Austin Conway said. "That's exciting for us, because usually with a freshman quarterback, he is just all over the place. But it's not so with Levi. ... It's night and day, to be honest with you. ... I think confidence is key as a quarterback ... He plays like he knows we have his back."
Georgia State coach Shawn Elliott said the Panthers' defensive game plan would not change drastically with Williams under center rather than Vander Waal.
"They have a system that they believe in, and they're going to go with that system. You don't just wholesale change something because of one individual," Elliott said. "You certainly play with two different talents, but the game plan will be the same."
Michael Katz covers the University of Wyoming for WyoSports. He can be reached at [email protected] or 307-755-3325. Follow him on Twitter at @michaellkatz.