The list of quarterbacks that have led the University of Wyoming to a bowl game in the past 15 years isn’t long. The Pokes have played in just five bowl games during that span with four different signal callers leading them to each bowl game.
That begs the question, can Wyoming succeed without elite, or at least very good, quarterback play? Until this past season, Nick Saban and Alabama have largely found success without a name-brand quarterback. The Baltimore Ravens have won Super Bowls with Joe Flacco and Trent Dilfer at the helm. That’s proof that teams can win without a stud at quarterback.
But having a stellar quarterback does make things a little easier. For instance, Trevor Lawrence was phenomenal for Clemson this past year and in the National Championship game against Alabama. Tom Brady has been fantastic for the New England Patriots for more than a decade, as he’s accumulated more than a handful of Super Bowl rings.
But when speaking in relation to the Pokes, it’s tough to find evidence of them playing at above a .500 clip without a very good quarterback. The list of names that have led Wyoming to a bowl game in the past decade and a half reads like this: Corey Bramlet, Austin Carta-Samuels, Brett Smith and Josh Allen.
Bramlet, a Wheatland native, enjoyed a solid season in 2004. He threw for 2,102 yards on a 58.3 completion percentage with 10 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. Bramlet pioneered the Cowboys to a thrilling Las Vegas bowl victory over UCLA.
Carta-Samuels garnered Mountain West Conference Freshman of the Year honors during the 2009 season. He completed 58.6 percent of his passes for 1,953 yards with 10 touchdowns and five interceptions. Carta-Samuels also ran for 366 yards and three scores, as he led Wyoming to a double-overtime victory over Fresno State in the New Mexico Bowl.
Smith also reeled in the MWC Freshman of the Year award during his first season in Laramie. He threw for 2,495 yards on a 60.5 completion percentage with 18 touchdowns and eight picks. Smith captained a run to the New Mexico Bowl where the Pokes were smoked by Temple.
The last two bowl games — the Poinsettia Bowl and the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl — were brought to you by Allen. The transcendent talent threw for 2,996 yards and 26 touchdowns as a redshirt sophomore and 1,658 yards and 13 scores the following year. The Cowboys fell to BYU in the 2016 Poinsettia Bowl and bounced back to topple Central Michigan in the Potato Bowl in 2017. So in the years not quarterbacked by a hometown hero hailing from Wheatland, a pair of MWC Freshman of Year honorees and a top-10 NFL Draft pick, Wyoming hasn’t found success on the gridiron. Current Head Coach Craig Bohl has found it particularly difficult to win without a quality quarterback. In Bohl’s five years as head man, he’s 10-26 in games not quarterbacked by Allen.
When looking at this season, the question must be asked, is Sean Chambers an elite talent? Fans only had a three-game sample of the freshman out of Kerman, California. He looked good in some lenses and not so good from other points of view.
If Chambers can’t perform at a relatively high level, can Wyoming succeed? The Pokes haven’t in the past. If Chambers doesn’t channel some of his inner Josh Allen — part of the reason he’s in Laramie in the first place — can Bohl produce a winner? He hasn’t in the past.
Not everything in football revolves around quarterback play. Teams can win with average, and even below average, play under center.
But that hasn’t been the case for Wyoming. So Chambers needs to be good, perhaps real good, for the Pokes to be any good.
University of Wyoming track and field athlete Jerayah Davis was named Most Outstanding Performer at the Mountain West Conference outdoor championships.
UW’s track and field team is sending 11 student-athletes to the NCAA West Preliminary Round in Sacramento.