LARAMIE — Jace Webb’s first snap as a Wyoming Cowboy was a long time coming, but it went about as well as it could have.
Austin Conway took a 3-yard reverse in for a touchdown Saturday when Webb took over for an injured Kaden Jackson at right guard, albeit to the opposite direction.
“It was awesome,” Webb said. “It was a great experience, going in (and) the first play is a touchdown. It was pretty neat.”
Webb will start Saturday in place of Jackson, who is sidelined with a knee injury, while Gavin Rush makes his second start of the year in place of senior guard Ryan Cummings (concussion).
Webb thought he might play as a true freshman last season, but a concussion in fall camp did him no favors, and he redshirted. This fall camp, Webb suffered an MCL and meniscus injury during a late-August scrimmage when a player was thrown into the side of his knee.
“Last year, I think it was a little bit tougher for him, because we were getting a lot of reps moving along,” offensive line coach Scott Fuchs said. “When you’re learning the offense, and that’s kind of that point there where you’re learning the offense, that’s going to hold you back quite a bit more, so that first-year injury was a little bit detrimental to his learning.
“As opposed to we were through fall camp (this year). That happened in the scrimmage. Jace knows what we’re doing, and he’s playing right and left. I think his comfort level is really getting there right now, and in pass blocking and run blocking, I think in both ways Jace is coming along fine.”
Webb began fully participating in practice two weeks ago and began taking more snaps the week before the Cowboys’ game against Hawaii, because Jackson had tweaked his knee against Oregon. Head coach Craig Bohl said Webb would start Saturday against Texas State, though junior Cole Turner had been listed as Jackson’s backup on Monday’s depth chart.
Rush, meanwhile, started for the first time all year in Wyoming’s win over Hawaii after starting every game at left guard as a true freshman in 2016.
“It was really fun,” Rush said. “I’ve been waiting, obviously, for that to come, and I just try to make the most of it, really. I thought it went pretty well. Even though it was my first game of the year, I felt a lot more comfortable than last year and a lot more confident. It felt great just to be out there.”
Rush was listed on Pro Football Focus’ Mountain West offensive team of the week with a grade of 85.9 out of 100. Center Logan Harris also made the cut with a score of 88.5.
“I thought he did a great job, actually,” Rush said of Harris, who took over the starting spot from Chase Roullier, who is now with the Washington Redskins. “You know, there were a few times on pass pro that I kind of went too far, and it was stuff that Chase had to correct me on last year. And Logan handled it this year, so that was really cool to see. I thought he did a pretty good job all night.”
With Rush and Webb starting Saturday, Wyoming’s offensive line will include just one player who was with the Cowboys in 2015: junior left tackle Zach Wallace. Harris and right tackle Alonzo Velazquez are true freshmen, while Rush is a true sophomore and Webb is a redshirt freshman.
“I actually said that before we went out there for, I think, the last drive of regulation,” Rush said. “I was like, ‘We have a bunch of just kids out there that are playing right now, and we’re doing a great job. So just keep it up.’”
Fuchs felt that Rush and Webb both played well in their debuts Saturday.
“Jace has been repping out at right and left guard, and Gavin’s been doing right and left guard and center in practice,” he said. “They’ve been playing a lot of multiple inside spots. So we were comfortable.
“This is year that we’ve had more depth than we ever had, so our ability to plug a guy in there, thankfully, was there on Saturday.”