LARAMIE — Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen’s chances of playing in Saturday’s game against Fresno State look positive but uncertain following the Cowboys’ weekly media day Monday.
Head coach Craig Bohl said he thinks Allen, who was injured late in the first half of Wyoming’s win at Air Force, will be cleared for practice “sometime during the course of this week,” but that his ability to play could come down to a game-time decision.
“We’re in hopes that he’ll return sometime this week,” Bohl said. “... We think we’re going to have Josh.”
The Mountain West preseason offensive player of the year, who was projected as a first-round NFL Draft selection, suffered the injury late in the first half of Wyoming’s 28-14 win Saturday. He began the second half at quarterback, but left the game in visible pain after throwing his first pass.
Allen’s mother posted on Facebook late Sunday that he had an AC joint sprain and would be having X-rays on Monday. Bohl said he did not believe any structural damage was done to Allen’s shoulder.
“There’s some soft tissue issues with it,” he said. “Obviously, when you have a quarterback (and) it’s his throwing shoulder, everybody’s going to respond differently. It’s just going to be contingent upon how fast Josh comes back to where he can have some zip on the football.
“Like I said, structurally, the information that we were given, he’s in good condition there, and it will just be a matter of time to when he’s able to come back and return. And we’re in hopes it’s sooner than later.”
Allen took multiple hits on Wyoming’s final full drive of the first half against Air Force, one on a first-down trick play and another on a third-down pass. Both fell incomplete.
“I think it was combination of the two hits, both on first and third down,” Wyoming offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Brent Vigen said. “He took different shots on both. I think at halftime, I think he felt like he could go, and then obviously he went out there and threw that first pass and just didn’t feel like he was up to par.”
Allen was not made available to media Monday, as Bohl said he was receiving medical treatment. Allen was also unavailable after the Air Force game.
Allen did appear to suffer an upper-body injury against Oregon earlier this year, but Bohl could not say whether Allen’s shoulder sprain was part of a recurring problem.
“That’s so far removed, I can’t even remember the Oregon game,” Bohl said. “I know we didn’t win, but Josh is a competitive guy. This is an important game for him. All our games are important, so he’s going to do everything he can to get ready to go.”
Allen grew up 45 minutes west of Fresno, California, in the small farm town of Firebaugh, and he was a Fresno State fan growing up. The Bulldogs did not offer Allen a scholarship out of high school or after he played a season at Reedley (California) College.
“I think between the medical staff and the doctors, I think they’ll give us and Josh the right advice,” Vigen said. “Generally speaking, if it’s something that can be played through, whatever the injury might be, we typically play them. And if it’s a situation where a guy can really further damage himself, we don’t.
“Whether a guy really wants to play or not, I think all our guys want to play no matter what the game is. Given that it is Fresno, close to where Josh grew up, I do think that’s important to him, but at the same time, his prolonged health is what’s most important to him and our team.”
The Bulldogs currently lead the West Division with a 5-1 conference record. Wyoming is also 5-1 in Mountain West play, but needs to win its final two games while Boise State loses its final two games to return to the Mountain West Football Championship Game. Saturday would be Allen’s first time playing against Fresno State.
“The fact that it is Fresno, I think he’ll be out there,” junior safety Andrew Wingard said. “But you’ve got ‘play the team that didn’t recruit you’ on this side or ‘save yourself for the NFL’ on this side. So it’s a really tough decision for him. With Fresno and him being a non-offered guy out of high school, I think he’ll find it in him to get out on the field.”
Allen nearly chose to leave for the NFL after his breakout 2016 season but decided to return for another season at Wyoming. Despite a slow start this year statistically, Allen was still being projected as a first-round selection in the upcoming NFL Draft. Allen has not yet formally announced whether he will leave for the NFL with a year of eligibility remaining.