Williams Ready, Physically and Mentally, to Assume Cowboy QB Chores

Tracy Ringolsby

Levi Williams wasn’t leaving anything to chance during the down time when things were put on hold because of COVID-19, Back home in Texas, wanting to make sure he was in the best shape possible for a football season, if there was one, he worked out — on his own.

“During the outbreak he was back home training,” head coach Craig Bohl said. “His dad works for Tooyota. He had a rope and he was pulling a Toyota truck sitting on his butt. I thought, `My goodness, that’s our quarterback. He’s pretty strong.’ He wasn’t pulling it over his shoulder. He was on the ground pulling it.”

And he showed up for the fall tipping the scales at 240 pounds, a 20 pound gain, although there’s no extra bulk on the body.

“This spring, in the quarantine, there were not any places open, and nobody was opening their home guys and everybody was secluded,” Williams explained. “The only way to get a workout in was running and pulling things. One of the heaviest things we have is a car.”

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And Williams is a believer that the summer work has turned into a fall blessing.

“A lot of times when I ran the ball I didn’t feel a lot of people wanted to tackle me besides the defensive linemen,” he said.

Now, comes of the next step in the evolution of Williams as a Division I quarterback. A week ago, the Cowboys were set with redshirt sophomore Sean Chambers as the No. 1 signal-caller, and Williams was 1-A, assured to getting some playing time, the amount depending on circumstances.

Turned out, four plays into the game at Nevada, Williams was the only quarterback, Chambers having suffered a broke left fibula on the third play of the game.

So now, it’s Williams at the controls, and there is no 1-A behind him. The Cowboys depth chart lists Williams followed by sophomore Ryan Marquez, who opened the season as a holder on placekicks for the second year in a row, and freshman Gavin Beerup.

The Cowboys did struggle in the first half at Nevada, scoring two field goals in the first half, but in the final minutes of the third quarter, Williams led Wyoming on three consecutive touchdown drives en route to forcing the game into overtime, which Nevada won 37-34. He finished the game 16-for-31, for 227 yards passing. He was 6-for 12 in the first half for 58 yards, but 45 of those yards came on one pass to Isaiah Neyer. Williams settled in the second half, however, completing 10 of 19 passes for 169 yards and a touchdown. He also rushed 10 times for 54 yards, including two touchdowns.

“Obviously it was a surprise,” he said of his sudden entrance into last week’s game. “I needed to be ready whenever my number is called. That’s a big thing with Coach Bohl. I felt I was. (But) I didn’t feel I played my best, especially in the first half. I left a lot of things on the table.”

Now, he knows, it’s game time. It’s a strong start and finish.

He has to be that leading force on the offense all game against Hawaii, not just in the late second half, like Nevada.

That late-game finish, however, is something to build on.

“It was super encouraging and it should have been that way the whole game, in my opinion,” he said. “We fought back. He never got our heads down. We were believers. It was a shout out to our leadership — Keegan (Cryder) on the offensive line and Sean. He was still motivating the offense. He is a true leader. It was a testament to him.”

Williams made it clear that even injured, Chambers remains critical to the Cowboys.

“He was voted captain (by his teammates) for a reason,” said Williams. “He is a great guy, great competitor. When he left the game it hurt for everyone. He’s not going to be gone. He’s going to be on the sidelines. He is going to be motivating us, marking sure our heads are on straight. That’s the kind of leader he is.”

On the field, however, Williams’ knows the responsibility rests with him in Chambers’ absence.

“The big thing (against Nevada) is there was a lot of easy stuff I didn’t take and make happen. There were moments we needed a big play. I’m a starter now. Leadership is something your are forced into and I feel I have enough experience in those situations to handle that.”


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