LARAMIE – University of Wyoming redshirt freshman quarterback Sean Chambers will miss the remainder of the 2019 season after undergoing surgery on his left knee, head coach Craig Bohl announced Monday at his weekly news conference.
There was no ligament damage in the knee, and Chambers’ long-term prognosis is “very optimistic,” Bohl said. Redshirt sophomore Tyler Vander Waal will start going forward.
“There was some minor cartilage that needed to be repaired,” Bohl said. “Once they got in there, they started saying, ‘OK, let’s repair it now and make sure there’s no other collateral damage.’”
Chambers was injured during the second quarter of the Cowboys’ Oct. 26 victory over Nevada after diving into the corner of the end zone for a touchdown. Chambers left the game for a drive, but reentered and finished out the first half. He spent the second half on the sideline in street clothes, however, and was replaced by sophomore Vander Waal for the remainder of the game.
Following the game – a 31-3 win, where Chambers had his best passing performance of the year, despite playing just one half – Bohl told reporters he believed Chambers would likely be OK to play against Boise State following the bye week, and that he had an MRI as a “precaution.” Bohl also said Chambers was cleared to return to the game but didn’t because he wouldn’t have been as effective.
Chambers went 6 of 9 for 158 yards, with two touchdowns and an interception, and a rushing touchdown.
“We were hoping for the best, but once the doctors got in, they found that they needed to do some repair,” Bohl said.
Chambers started the first eight games of the season and finishes the 2019 season with 915 passing yards, seven touchdowns and three interceptions. He added 567 yards and 10 touchdowns on the ground, the latter leading the team.
Chambers started three games of the 2018 season after beginning the year as Vander Waal’s backup. He replaced Vander Waal against Utah State and started the next three contests, all Wyoming wins, before suffering a leg injury against Air Force. Vander Waal then started the season finale at New Mexico.
Bohl noted that Chambers’ hard-nose, smashmouth style of football is an aspect that the coaching staff might have to look at going forward in order to prevent future injuries. However, Bohl also said he doesn’t want to change the qualities that make his quarterback special.
“I’ve thought about that quite a bit. I told him, ‘You are who you are, and you have to play like you play.’ … I do think it’s in his DNA to be a competitive guy,” Bohl said. “But to change a lot of the things that really make him special, I think we’d be doing a disservice to him and our program.
“It’s hard for me to see a quarterback run out of bounds. But I have to take a look at that. Maybe I have to change.”
In limited action this year, Vander Waal is 4 for 16 passing for 84 yards and a touchdown. In nine starts last season, Vander Waal threw for 1,310 yards, with five touchdowns and four interceptions.
Vander Waal’s last start was Nov. 24, 2018. Heading into a primetime matchup with No. 21 Boise State, Vander Waal is confident in his abilities and is relishing the chance to be the Pokes’ starting quarterback again.
“I’m excited. I’m ready to go out there and play football. As a competitor, you always want to be the guy that’s in charge. And I’m in this position,” Vander Waal said. “At the same time, you hate to see Sean go down with the injury that happened to him, especially for the second year in a row.”
Vander Waal’s teammates have also shown their belief in the redshirt sophomore.
“Tyler’s won some football games for us a year ago. This is not his first game,” senior wide receiver Austin Conway said. “I know he’s gotten a lot better from last year. He’s put a lot of work in, and it’s showed over time.”
Kickoff vs. Utah State announced
Wyoming’s game at Utah State on Nov. 16 will kick off at 2 p.m. Mountain Time on ESPNU. It will be the third time that the Cowboys have appeared on the ESPN family of networks this season.
Wilson named Butkus Award semifinalist
Senior linebacker Logan Wilson was named one of 12 semifinalists for the prestigious Butkus Award, which is awarded to the nation’s top linebacker. Wilson was the only semifinalist from outside the Power 5 Conferences.
Wilson has 62 tackles this season, including 6.5 for loss. He has 366 tackles in his career. The Casper native was named Mountain West Freshman of the Year in 2016 and has been named second team All-Mountain West and All-Mountain West Honorable Mention the last two seasons, respectively.
“There’s not a better, more humble guy who doesn’t toot his own horn,” Bohl said. “If I had a quarter for every time some of my colleagues around the country said, ‘You can’t win with Wyoming players.’ The facts are you can’t win without them. I’d be a rich man right now.”
Velazquez, Watts back to practice
Offensive linemen Alonzo Velazquez and Zach Watts will both return to practice for the Cowboys, Bohl announced Monday. Bohl said he was unsure when each would be ready to play in a game, but noted that Velazquez would “be in position to finish out the season.”