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Competition begins at QB during Wyoming practice

March 27, 2019

LARAMIE, Wyo. (AP) — There won’t be any shortage of competition this spring for Wyoming’s football team, but one position in particular will constantly be under the microscope for the next four weeks.

The Cowboys started spring drills Tuesday with quarterbacks Sean Chambers and Tyler Vander Waal back in the fold. Vander Waal started 10 games as a redshirt freshman last season while Chambers got the starting nod for two full games before a broken leg ended his freshman season prematurely.

“We’re opening up every position to competition,” Wyoming coach Craig Bohl said. “Today, Sean took reps with the ones, but we’re certainly going to look at Tyler. Tyler, against Air Force and some other teams, he really played well.”

Tuesday was the first day back on the field since the injury for Chambers, who moved around fluidly without any sort of brace on his right leg. As expected, Chambers is the early leader in the competition after accounting for 595 yards and five touchdowns in 10 quarters last season, sparking an otherwise dormant offense that finished near the bottom in the Mountain West in yards and points.

“I kind of don’t even pay attention to that,” said Chambers, who’s up to 220 pounds on his 6-foot-3 frame. “I kind of just pay attention to what I’ve got to do and take it play by play and series by series, I guess. . If you just work hard and practice hard, everything will fall into its place.”

Meanwhile, Vander Waal, the true pocket passer of the two, is getting a fresh start after a trying first season that eventually saw him get benched before Chambers’ injury in the 11th game of the season. He completed less than half of his passes with nearly as many interceptions (4) as touchdown passes (5).

“I think it’s a big spring for me just with the competition and knowing that what I did last year wasn’t what I wanted to show,” Vander Waal said. “I have a lot to prove still, and I know what I’m capable of doing.”

Bohl said the competition will be “pretty doggone fluid” for now, though he doesn’t anticipate dragging his feet for long once the spring ends, if at all. A decision could come by the time Wyoming’s spring game rolls around on April 27 or shortly thereafter.

“Typically by the end of spring, we’ll have something,” Bohl said. “When we had Josh Allen, that was a different deal. I think it’s incumbent on us to name a starter at quarterback after spring football.”

Both quarterbacks said there are areas in which they have to improve as they make their case.

While Chambers wasn’t asked to throw often last season — he completed 60 percent of his 25 passes — he said he’s got just as much confidence in his ability to make virtually every pass as he does his knack for tucking it and running. It’s the mental part of the Cowboys’ offense where the redshirt freshman has to make strides.

“I think just becoming more consistent, getting this playbook down and improve on my passing I guess,” Chambers said. “Touch up on some things.”

Vander Waal has the playbook advantage entering his third season in coordinator Brent Vigen’s offense, but the mechanics need polishing. Footwork was an issue for the 6-4, 220-pounder last season, which contributed to his 48.8 completion percentage.

“I talked to Josh (Allen) a little bit after the season to see who he worked with footwork-wise. I kind of think that’s where I struggled last year,” Vander Waal said. “Your feet lead your throw, and I think my feet were all over the place all season. I was just kind of trying to correct it myself as the season went on, and it didn’t really help at all.”

Incoming freshman Levi Williams will also get a look this spring after enrolling early, but barring injuries, the three-star signee is likely a redshirt candidate. Most of the focus will be on the other two youngsters at the position with a decision between the two coming sooner rather than later.

″(Bohl) just said it was going to be an open competition kind of like last year was,” Vander Waal said. “Whoever is the best guy is going to get the starting job.”

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Information from: Casper (Wyo.) Star-Tribune, http://www.trib.com

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