Wyoming to battle No. 22 Boise St. with backup QB

Field Level Media

November 06, 2019 at 8:08 am.

If visiting Wyoming is to upset No. 22 Boise State on Saturday night and turn the Mountain West Conference’s Mountain Division into a muddled mess, it will have to do so with its backup quarterback.

Cowboys starter Sean Chambers sustained a season-ending knee injury in a 31-3 rout of Nevada on Oct. 26, meaning that Tyler Vander Waal will have to shoulder the load. Vander Waal started nine games last season.

“We have confidence in Tyler,” Wyoming coach Craig Bohl said. “He won us some games last year. … He beat Air Force last year. I’m really proud of him and the way he’s handled Sean playing. He’s stayed committed and locked in.”

Neither Chambers nor Vander Waal will remind one of Aaron Rodgers or Tom Brady in terms of accuracy, but Chambers offered the mobility that helped the Cowboys’ run-first attack thrive. He is the team’s second-leading rusher with 567 yards, enjoying three 100-yard games, including 120 in a season-opening upset of Missouri.

He also leads the team with 10 rushing touchdowns.

And Chambers showed signs in the team’s last game of finding his groove in the air, going 6 of 9 for 158 yards and two scores with one interception. By contrast, Vander Waal is just 4 of 16 in two games this year after hitting only 48.8 percent of his 246 attempts last year.

Wyoming (6-2, 3-1 Mountain West) will need something in the air if it is to leave Albertsons Stadium with a win over the conference kingpin. The Broncos (7-1, 4-0) produced a 52-42 road victory over San Jose State last week as freshman running back George Holani rushed for four touchdowns and 126 yards on 28 carries.

Holani, who was named Mountain West Offensive Player of the Week, became the first Boise State player to run for four TDs in a game since Jeremy McNichols did it against UNLV in 2016. Holani is the team’s leading rusher with 589 yards.

“George came in here and physically was more ready to play (than typical freshmen) and, I think, mentally,” Broncos coach Bryan Harsin told the Idaho Statesman. “That’s probably the one thing we underestimated, too.

“He came from a really good high school and was ready to play. The guy’s got one speed. It’s full.”

Adding him to freshman quarterback Hank Bachmeier, who’s coming off a 13-of-17, 213-yard performance at San Jose State, means Boise State appears set to remain relevant on a national scale. Bachmeier has completed 63.2 percent of his passes and thrown just four interceptions in 192 attempts, showing good discretion in addition to ability.

He has nine touchdown passes and has thrown for 1,760 yards, with a high of 407 yards in a season-opening win at Florida State.

The Broncos have dominated the all-time series with the Cowboys, posting a 12-1 mark, including a 6-0 record in Boise. Wyoming’s only victory in the series came three years ago in Laramie, a 30-28 upset that propelled the Cowboys to the division title.