Wilson Epitomizes Cowboy Tough; NFL Draft Can Wait, He Has One More Game in Brown and Gold
TUCSON -- Two years ago, Josh Allen was the eventual seventh player selected in the NFL draft. First, however, he had some unfinished business to take care of -- quarterbacking Wyoming to a win over Central Michigan in the Idaho Potato Bowl.
This year, it's Logan Wilson, who may not be a first-round selection by an NFL team next spring but coach Craig Bohl said he has had multiple conversations with representatives of teams talking about selecting Wilson high in the draft. First, however, he has some unfinished business to take care of -- being a key factor for his home state University against Georgia State in Tuesday's Nova Home Loans Arizona Bowl.
In an era where potential high picks in the NFL draft have frequently begged out of post-season events, Bohl said Saturday it underscores the commitment key players on the Wyoming roster feel toward the school, their teammate, and the Cowboy fan base.
"It says something about Logan's character," said Bohl. "It also says something about his commitment to the University of Wyoming. This is an important game to win. It didn't cross his mind not to play.
"I think that epitomizes the culture we have and the type of player we have. Josh Allen didn't skip his bowl game, and Logan isn't either."
Wilson is a critical part of the Wyoming defense. A three-time team captain by a vote of his teammates, he was a first-team Mountain West post-season selection, even without the hype of having been recognized in the preseason voting, and was a first-team All-America selection by Pro Football Focus and second-team in the USA voting.
And he is product of Natrona County High School in Casper, growing up with a team that came true -- to wear the Brown and Gold. Now, he wants to leave Wyoming with a feeling of accomplishment for a team that was one of four bowl eligible teams that did not receive a bowl invitation a year ago.
"That was a source of frustration," said Bohl. "It has kind of put a chip on our shoulder. Our guys, when we were selected (this year), were really excited. You could tell by the practices (since the regular-season ended) we have a positive attitude."
The Cowboys also have a consistent game plan. This is not a run-and-shoot offensive, it is an offense built on the run, looking for ways to control the ball and provide a break for the defense. And while Bohl would like to get to a point where the passing game is more a part of the game plan, it is apparent that his priority is the work on the ground.
"It is something I believe in," Bohl said of the running game. "We can't be one dimensional, but it does have an impact if you can run the football and stop (the opposition) from running the ball. ... I don't know how many of you watched the Air Force/Washington State game (Friday night).
"I don't think anybody throws the ball better than Washington State. I know know anybody who runs the ball better than Air Force. You saw who came out on top."
Air Force offers to apologies for its style of play, and neither do the Cowboys.
A key to the running game is that it can take keep a defense rested because it can run the clock down slower than teams with a penchant for passing. And defense is the ultimate focus for the Cowboys.
"By choice," Bohl said when asked if the running game was out of necessity or desire. "You look at when Wyoming has really been good, it has played great defense. That's been through the coach (Paul) Roach years, back in the (Bob) Devaney years, and the coach (Joe) Tiller years.
"Even though they threw the ball with Joe they had a great offensive line and played good defense. In our climate in Laramie it's not always going to be sunny and 60 degrees. We have several games where you have to play Cowboy Tough football."
The forecast for Tuesday in Tucson is overcast but a high of 60 degrees.
Against Georgia State, however, Bohl knows it will take Cowboy Tough football to win because Georgia State is plenty tough itself. Quarterback Dan Ellington suffered a torn ACL in the ninth game of the season, coming out int he first half of that game against Louisiana Monroe.
To the surprise of his teammates and coaches, Ellington, despite the right knee injury, started in the three remaining games, including a 28-15 win against South Alabama for Georgia State's seventh win. He was 21-for-27 for 208 yards passing in that game.
Ellington, however, was not as efficient the previous week, a 56-27 loss to Appalachian State in which he was 12-for-27, nor in the regular-season finale, a 38-10 loss to Georgia Southern, in which he was 18-for-27 for 182 yards.
He, however, suited up and played, and has now had a month off in advance of the Arizona Bowl.
"The fact he is out there playing the game with an ACL tear gives you an indication of how important it is to them," said Bohl.