Wyoming QB focused on fundamentals to up passing game
LARAMIE, Wyo. (AP) — Wyoming’s attempt to balance out its offense with Sean Chambers at quarterback is still very much a work in progress.
Most of that work, Chambers admitted, starts with him.
As much of a focus as there was during fall camp on bringing Chambers along as a passer so that the Cowboys could expand their playbook after using their young quarterback primarily as a runner last season, Wyoming’s passing game has looked much like it did last year through two games this season. Chambers has yet to complete more than eight passes in a game and has connected on just 41.2 percent of his attempts.
That completion percentage is fourth-worst in the Football Bowl Subdivision and lower than the 49.8-percent clip Wyoming completed passes at last season. Tyler Vander Waal spent most of last season at starter and completed 48.8 percent of his passes before being benched in favor of Chambers, who attempted just 25 passes in the four games he played as a true freshman.
There are still some looks from opposing defenses he’s still having to adjust to six games into his career. But Chambers has thrown just one interception this season, and that came when he tried to give his receivers a chance to make a play on a jump ball in the end zone as the final second ticked off the clock on the first half against Texas State.
The primary issue for Chambers has been throwing wide of open receivers.
“There’s a lot of stuff, but I just start with myself,” Chambers told the Casper Star-Tribune. “I look myself in the mirror and ask myself what I can do better. It’s just stuff with my mechanics and footwork.”
Chambers went 8 of 18 passing for 103 yards against the Bobcats after going just 6 of 16 through the air in Wyoming’s opening win over Missouri. Three plays in particular stuck with offensive coordinator Brent Vigen where better accuracy and decision-making from the redshirt freshman could’ve resulted in more production: an errant third-down throw to Xazavian Valladay out of the backfield, a throw off a run-pass option that sailed high over the middle and a shot to Rocket Ismail Jr. in the corner of the end zone that Chambers intentionally put up high in order to get it over the Bobcats’ sagging zone coverage.
“He probably should’ve taken the easy (checkdown),” Vigen said. “So it’s part maybe decisions at times, and it’s been maybe some footwork things. They’re all throws he’s able to make.”
On Wyoming’s opening possession of the third quarter, Chambers placed one in the breadbasket to Gunner Gentry for a 44-yard completion on third-and-9 to keep alive a drive that ultimately ended in a field goal that got the Cowboys closer in their 23-14 comeback victory. He also completed 15 of those 25 passes last season and threw for more touchdowns (3) than he ran for (2), so it’s not like Chambers isn’t capable of more than he’s shown in his first 34 attempts this season.
But there have also been attempts that left a lot to be desired. The one that won’t soon be forgotten is Chambers’ short hop of a wide-open Josh Harshman in the end zone that left the Cowboys to settle for a chip-shot field goal in the first quarter against Missouri.
It’s the kind of rushed throw that Chambers said has occurred far too often in the early going this season.
“I’ve just got to stay calm. I have happy feet out there sometimes,” Chambers said. “I’ve just got to be calm and deliver the ball accurately. It’s just getting excited. Getting anxious to throw the ball. I’ve just got to wait until the right moment, just trust myself and trust my arm.”
Wyoming is one of nine FBS teams that still doesn’t have a passing touchdown this season. A running game averaging 243.5 yards and a defense that’s forced six turnovers and found the end zone twice itself have helped keep the Cowboys unbeaten despite the lack of production through the air.
But the Cowboys need that part of their game to start catching up.
“There were some other throws (against Texas State) that Sean has just got to get his feet settled, take his correct read and get that percentage up to where we’re in the 60-something percent,” Wyoming coach Craig Bohl said. “Right now, we’re off. We’re down around 40-something percent, and any time you’re throwing at that rate, it’s going to be hard to win a lot of games unless you’re running the ball really effectively, which we are.
“Those numbers have got to improve, and we’re going to work hard on that over the course of this week.”
Information from: Casper (Wyo.) Star-Tribune, http://www.trib.com