Wyoming fans were elated to hear quarterback Josh Allen’s name called by the Buffalo Bills seventh overall in the 2018 NFL Draft. He was the first Cowboy drafted in the first round since 1976 and the program’s only top-10 pick.
Those same fans also knew in the back of their minds this meant a downfall for Wyoming football, as freshman Tyler Vander Waal was set to take over the quarterbacking duties for the Cowboys.
So far, not so good.
After a fairly efficient outing in Wyoming’s win against New Mexico State (13-for-21, 137 yds, 116.7 rating), the freshman got worked by Washington State’s defense. Vander Waal completed an abysmal 8-of-20 passes for just 67 yards and an interception in the Cowboys’ 41-19 loss Sept. 1.
Running back Nico Evans took some pressure off Vander Wall to perform, carrying the load for Wyoming’s offense in their first two games. The senior rushed 24 times for 190 yards (7.9 yd/rush) and a pair of touchdowns in a Week One win against New Mexico State. He had another solid game against Washington State (18 rushes for 89 yards and a touchdown) before exiting the game with a rib injury in the third quarter.
Evans is considered day-to-day right now and could be a game-time decision for the Cowboys’ bout with Missouri. If Wyoming’s star running back can’t suit up Saturday, it could be a long night for their offense.
Already at a disadvantage with a freshman quarterback playing against an experienced Southeastern Conference defense, not having Evans running the football could result in big problems for Wyoming. The Cowboys’ two backup running backs, freshmen Jevon Bigelow and Xazavian Valladay, have rushed for a combined 173 yards on 45 carries — a 3.84 yards-per-carry average.
Expect a lot of three-and-outs for Wyoming’s offense if Evans is scratched from Saturday’s game. But if the senior running back is healthy, he’s one player Missouri’s front seven will focus on.
Don’t expect Evans to have as big a game as he did Week One, as the Tigers’ defense will be keying on him all game. Barry Odom will likely force Vander Waal to beat Missouri; and let’s be honest — he’s not coming out on top of an offensive shootout with Drew Lock.