You can’t question Levi Williams’ toughness
LARAMIE -- Critics can point to completion percentages and passing efficiency until they are blue in the face when it comes to Wyoming quarterback Levi Williams' 2020 campaign under center, but one thing no one can question is the freshman's toughness.
We saw it during the last offseason, Williams on camera dragging a car up the driveway with a thick rope.
We all got our first glimpse in his initial college game late in 2019, dragging Colorado State tacklers all over War Memorial Stadium. He even took a shot to the gut that frigid night in Laramie, doubling over in pain.
He bounced back one play later.
We haven't even talked about the time he zipped a 51-yard touchdown pass to Ayden Eberhardt before halftime in the Arizona Bowl. Williams never saw the end result of that one.
Because he was lying under the Georgia State bench after taking a violent hit toward the sideline from a Panther linebacker.
Yes, 2020 was a struggle for the Texas product. He completed under 50% of his passes and tossed just one touchdown pass in six outings. He added three interceptions too as the Cowboys limped to a 2-4 finish.
He was also sacked 14 times and took plenty of other hits that don't show up on a stat sheet.
You knew that already.
What you probably didn't know is the 6-foot-5, 221-pounder was playing with a near separated shoulder and a hip injury, which forced him to exit Wyoming's final two games in the fourth quarter.
UW head coach Craig Bohl Tuesday talked about the grit and determination Williams showed despite a list of ailments that could've -- maybe should've -- sidelined most.
"He really took a couple hard hits," Bohl said. "Many times it was probably until Wednesday that he was able to really do much throwing at all. He'd wake up on Monday and couldn't hardly lift his arm above 90 degrees."
Having lost starting quarterback Sean Chambers for the year on the third play of the season, Williams was thrust into a starting role in the Cowboys final five games. He did have one start under his belt coming into the season. That was the 38-17 victory over Georgia State in Tucson.
In the opener in Reno, Williams helped lead the Cowboys back from a 28-6 third-quarter deficit. The game went to overtime before the Wolf Pack eventually pulled off a 37-34 win. Williams threw for 227 yards on 16-of-31 passing.
He also connected late with wide out Gunner Gentry:
It wasn't until Week 3 and a matchup with Border War rival Colorado State that the hits started to mount.
Williams threw a pick-six on the third play of the night in Ft. Collins. The next drive ended with a strip sack. CSU found the end zone one play later. Statistically, it was Williams best game in a Wyoming uniform, throwing for 321 yards. The harsh reality -- Wyoming lost and Williams was sacked a season-high six times.
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Five more sacks followed over the next three weeks, including three against Boise State in the season finale. A week prior against New Mexico, Williams was forced to leave the game after completing just 4-of-12 passes for 73 yards. Against the Broncos, he was just 3-of-13 and third-string quarterback Gavin Beerup entered the game in relief.
The results weren't always pretty, but Bohl emphasized it wasn't for lack of effort -- or toughness.
"He's got a great competitive spirit," he said. "You know, some guys always feel like the only time they can play is when they're at 100%. That's pretty damn hard. You don't get that in college football very often. You're going to have to, you know, suck it up sometimes.
"He's done that."
Entering the 2020 campaign, Bohl said the Cowboys would utilize a two-quarterback system. Chambers would be the starter, but Williams was going to play, too.
Will that still be the case this fall after Bohl said Tuesday "every job is open during spring football?"
"Well, we're going to take a look at how they perform this spring," he said. "If there's a significant separation, then that will alter some of the thoughts that we have. If the competition is such that there's a marginal difference between the two -- very minimal -- then we may play both. But as you saw (last year), we definitely need depth at that quarterback position."