Wyoming’s Andrew Peasley: ‘Not Being Able to Play Hurt’
LARAMIE -- Andrew Peasley took the shotgun snap, briefly extended his arms into the midsection of the running back, ripped it back under his right arm and took off to his left.
The edge rusher bit hard on the fake.
Wyoming's quarterback began to scamper into the Portland State secondary when he was hit low from the left. On the right, he was popped by an oncoming linebacker from his blindside, quickly crashing into the turf inside War Memorial Stadium.
The senior rose to his feet, shook his head and winced. It was an 11-yard gain and the Cowboys were again threatening.
The next play resulted in a scoring strike to Ayir Asante from 14 yards out. The lead swelled to 21.
Peasley's day was done.
Little did we know at the time, his well-deserved break was an unwanted one.
"I got hit and I think the adrenaline kind of took over," he said Monday afternoon. "I threw that ball and it was a sharp pain. Then I came off."
The tackle, delivered by 6-foot-1, 220-pound Jaymason Willingham, appeared to be routine, especially in the context of the battering Peasley took on opening night. Texas Tech was credited with just one QB hit, but that didn't tell the real story. On nearly every one of his 15 designed runs, a violent ending followed.
Peasley absorbed the brunt of a helmet-to-helmet hit early as he was twisted out of bounds. A harmless slide near midfield came with an inadvertent forearm to the head. The 6-foot-2, 218-pound signal caller took a shot on the perimeter in the third quarter. He nearly ended up under the home bench. Yellow hankies flew.
On the final offensive snap of regulation, Jaylon Hutchings, all 305 pounds of him, pancaked Peasley, all that weight landing on his left shoulder.
He kept getting up.
What was different about this one?
"It was just a little awkward landing and hit," he said. "It kind of sucks. Just one little hit."
Peasley spent the fourth quarter with an ice pack on his throwing shoulder. Craig Bohl didn't elaborate, only saying "we're looking at different things" when asked why Peasley was yanked in favor of back-up Evan Svoboda over the final 15 minutes. Wyoming's head coach added, "And it was good to get Evan some work."
Conventional wisdom said the game was out of hand and the starter was pulled to avoid injury and running up the score.
We now know that wasn't the full truth of the matter.
Peasley suffered an AC sprain, ligament damage that is known to linger. The "zip" wasn't there last week. The pain was. Svoboda said he found out last Monday he would be the starter when the Cowboys traveled to Austin to take on the No. 4 Longhorns in front of a capacity crowd of more than 100,000.
Peasley wanted that assignment. He's dreamed of playing in that atmosphere against that team.
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It wasn't meant to be.
"You know, it's hard when I put so much into this sport and it's what I love to do," he said. "Not being able to play hurt, but at the same time, I was happy for Evan."
Knowing he wouldn't see the field. Peasley, one of six team captains, took on the role of advisor and mentor. The two quarterbacks bunked together on the road. When the two woke up in that hotel room, Peasley had a message for the sophomore.
"I was like, you really get an opportunity that a lot of kids just dream about, and that's to play on that stage, in that arena and just to be able to go out and show people what you're capable of," he said. "I thought Evan did really well. I was really happy for him."
Standing on the sideline inside Darrell K. Royal Stadium, Peasley, in full uniform, watched as Svoboda completed 16-of-28 throws for 136 yards. He connected with five different pass catchers. He was poised, not shaken by the moment, something Peasley was admittedly a little concerned about.
The 30-point underdogs threw the first punch in this fight when running back Harrison Waylee raced 62 yards untouched into the end zone on the fifth offensive snap of the night. After three quarters, Wyoming had battled the 'Horns to a 10-10 tie.
Each time Svoboda came to the bench, Peasley said he dished out words of advice, inspiration. At one point, fresh off the lone Texas sack of the night, he even joked that he brushed the pellets of turf off his arms.
"It was nice," Svoboda said. "I mean, all night he was coming up to me, saying, like, 'you got this' and encouraging me all the way. Not only him, but all the other guys. It was really nice. You know, it really boosted my confidence. I really appreciate that from this team."
For Peasley, it was just second nature.
"I was trying to block it out really, just the emotions of not being able to play and really take my emotions to use it for a better cause and help," he said. "I'm not going to be on the sidelines just complaining and being a negative-energy guy. You know, I was just trying to be a leader and help my teammates play well in Texas.
"We had a good game. We're a good team."
Texas eventually flexed its muscles and scored 21 unanswered in the fourth quarter. It took just 4:10 of game clock to put a stranglehold on its third victory to start the season. One of those scores was a pick-six. Terrin Thompson jumped an out route, snagging a Svoboda pass and making a house call from 27 yards out.
It wasn't lost on Peasley's teammates what their quarterback and friend was going through.
"He was definitely emotional, just because he wants to be out there with us," wide receiver Wyatt Wieland said. "He doesn't want to leave us hanging and we missed him. But, I mean, we held it down the best we could. We look forward to having him back."
"You know, Andrew's leadership is definitely one of his strongest qualities out there, and a lot of experience with him," left tackle Frank Crum added. "It was sad to see it all week. He was trying to get back and he just struggled a little bit. I don't think it's a long term thing for him, but, yeah, you definitely miss a guy like that out there leading you, but yet again, Evan stepped up to the best of his abilities, I know that."
Now, the waiting game.
With Appalachian State coming to town this Saturday, Bohl failed to name a starting quarterback Monday during his weekly press conference. Why? He wants to see if Peasley can go. If he can "make all the throws," he'll be the guy under center.
Will that ailing shoulder be ready?
That's to be determined.
Peasley said he's feeling better by the day, but added he needs to be "90%, at least" in order to not only play, but be successful. A setback could aggravate this injury, one that could heal in a week or up to six weeks, depending on severity.
It's not all about the passing game, either. Peasley is currently the team's second-leading rusher with 111 yards rushing on 21 attempts.
It's all or nothing.
"I want to make sure I'm really ready to go and not go into the game with the idea that one hit could maybe set me back for another two weeks or whatever," he said. "So, you know, I'm never going to stop being competitive in football. I think the way I play the game is, I have to use my legs sometimes because I don't have Evan's arm.
"I don't have that ability to launch a ball, you know, 50 yards downfield after I scramble, so I have to use my legs. I need to make sure I'm ready."
The Cowboys (2-1) and Mountaineers (2-1) will meet Saturday night in Laramie. Kickoff is slated for 5 p.m. Mountain Time and the game will be televised on CBS Sports Network.