BOISE, Idaho — Josh Allen will play another game as a Wyoming Cowboy.
The junior quarterback will start in Friday’s Famous Idaho Potato Bowl between the Cowboys and Central Michigan, Wyoming head coach Craig Bohl announced Wednesday at the teams’ Potato Bowl news conference.
“Josh and I had a long talk, and Josh is ready to play and start in this football game,” Bohl said. “He’s had several great practices, and so he’s in position to be 100 percent.”
Allen suffered a shoulder injury Nov. 11 at Air Force and missed Wyoming’s final two games of the regular season, which the Cowboys lost. Wyoming is 7-3 in Allen’s starts this season.
Bohl has said he does not expect Allen, a projected first-round NFL Draft pick, to return in 2018, though Allen has yet to declare he is leaving.
Allen jokingly said he knew that his shoulder would be ready for the game when he competed in the team’s bowling outing Monday.
“No, it’s feeling good,” Allen said. “It’s been progressively getting better, and it’s now to a point where I feel like I’m making all the throws I normally would without any pain. So, talking to Coach Bohl, I think it’s best-suited for this team if I were to go ahead and start this game.
“I said it from day one from this injury, I want to be back on the field as soon as possible. It took a little longer than expected, but I’m just glad to be able to go back out there for one more time at least.”
Allen has thrown for 1,658 yards this season on 141-of-251 passing (56.2 percent) with 13 touchdown passes and six interceptions. In two starts, backup Nick Smith completed 37-of-69 passes (53.6 percent) for 402 yards, two passing touchdowns and two interceptions. Wyoming lost its two games without Allen, 13-7 to Fresno State and 20-17 at San Jose State.
Allen dressed for both those games but only warmed up before the San Jose State game. Bohl said Allen would have only been available in that game in an emergency capacity.
“I’m not rusty at all,” Allen said. “It’s like riding a bike, I guess. I might be a little out of shape. There’s a couple times I’ve taken off on a few runs in practice and getting back to the huddle, I’ve got to tell the guys I’ve got to wait a few seconds before I can say the next play. But that’s about it.”
Allen has said since the San Jose State game that he would like to play in the bowl game if his injury, which his mother said on Facebook was an AC sprain, was 100 percent healed. At Wyoming’s media day last week, he said he was in the 90th percentile.
Allen was voted the Mountain West’s 2017 preseason offensive player of the year, following a breakout redshirt sophomore season in which he led Wyoming to a Mountain Division championship and an appearance in the Poinsettia Bowl. The Cowboys had won two games the season before, when Allen played just three drives.
“As far as his contribution, Josh is uniquely gifted,” Bohl said. “He can do a lot of special things. For me, I’ve coached 35 years, and very few times have I seen quarterbacks be able to do some of the things he does.
“But the X-factor that maybe some of the people in the media have seen, but I’ve certainly lived it, is just his competitive nature. And that spills out to our entire football team.”
Allen reaffirmed that he never gave consideration to skipping the bowl game solely to protect his NFL Draft status, something that has become more common in recent years among players in lesser bowls projected to be drafted early.
“I know every young man makes decisions for where they’re at in their life,” Bohl said. “I think Josh’s decision to play his final game coming off an injury is what college football’s about. And some of these guys that make their decisions on choosing not to finish off their career — I’m sure maybe my paths will cross a guy like that — it would be pretty hard for me to understand that.
“And I can tell you this, I’ve had extended conversations with a lot of general managers, and they’ve all wanted to know about Josh’s will to win, his competitive nature, and he’s a 10 out of a 10.
“So we’re excited about having him back, and he will make a profound difference on our football team. Obviously, he’s a playmaker, and a quarterback can have a lot of impact on that. But his competitive nature is going to be a great, great addition.”
The Cowboys (7-5 overall, 5-3 Mountain West) and Chippewas (8-4 overall, 6-2 Mid-American Conference) kick off at 2 p.m. Friday at Albertsons Stadium.