Neither of the leading candidates in Wyoming’s quarterback competition did much to separate himself in the first game-like environment for the Cowboys this spring.
There were some bright spots Saturday between Sean Chambers and Tyler Vander Waal, who split their reps almost in half during Wyoming’s 83-play scrimmage at Natrona County High’s Cheney Alumni Field. Vanilla playcalling rarely called for the ball to be pushed down the field, but Chambers showed good mobility on his surgically repaired right leg while Vander Waal was largely on the mark in the short and intermediate passing games.
But the accuracy wasn’t consistent, and the decision-making was questionable at times. Vander Waal completed 66 percent of his passes (8 of 12) but threw the only two interceptions of the day. Chambers stayed away from turnovers but completed just 5 of his 15 passes.
“It was a little bit of a mixed bag from a quarterback perspective,” Wyoming coach Craig Bohl said.
It was the first time Chambers had been in a true game-like setting since breaking his leg against Air Force before Thanksgiving. The redshirt freshman admitted there was some anxiousness on his part, and it showed at times.
Chambers completed just one pass in his first handful of series, missing wide or high of open receivers. He had a chance to connect with tight end Nate Weinman for a touchdown late in the scrimmage when Weinman broke wide open on the left side of the end zone, but Chambers sailed the pass out of the 6-foot-7 Weinman’s reach.
“I wish I could get that one back,” Chambers said. “I saw it and it was just wide open, and I rushed it. I think if I could go back and do it again, I’d hit that nine times out of 10.
“I had a little bit of jitters, but that’s no excuse for missing some throws. I think I need to find a groove early and stay in it.”
When Vander Waal completed passes, they were usually in stride. But the offense’s first real scoring threat was thwarted when Vander Waal rolled out and threw late toward the sideline in the red zone, resulting in an interception. A fade ball late in the scrimmage was also picked off thanks to an acrobatic play made by cornerback Blake Harrington.
“I thought Tyler was throwing the ball well, and then he had a really poor throw on the interception,” Bohl said. “They’re a work in progress.”
Linebackers step up
Linebackers Logan Wilson and Cassh Maluia didn’t participate in the scrimmage so that Bohl and his staff could get an extended look at some of the less experienced players at the position. They didn’t disappoint.
Rising sophomore Chad Muma led all tacklers with 10 stops. Muma has been the lone young linebacker Bohl has been willing to single out throughout the spring for his performance, but redshirt freshman Charles Hicks was right behind Muma on Saturday with eight tackles while Ray Rabou, another redshirt freshman, had seven.
“We stressed those guys,” Bohl said. “Logan Wilson did not play today. That was predetermined. It was a good opportunity, and I did not see a lot of missed tackles. I saw some guys form up and wrap up well.”
Cooper Rothe picked up right where he left off last season. The senior-to-be converted his only field-goal attempt on a 32-yarder Saturday and was good on both extra-point attempts, one of which sailed over the kicking net and out of the stadium.
“Cooper is right where he needed to be, although we may get sued because the ball went over on the street over there,” Bohl joked.
Rothe is coming off a junior season in which he was named the Mountain West Special Teams Player of the Year. He was also a finalist for the Lou Groza Award after making 94.1 percent (16 of 17) of his field goals.