fb pixel

Log In

Reset Password

Defining moment

Josh Allen’s college resume lacks a signature moment.

The Wyoming quarterback quietly moved to the top of NFL draft projections during his sophomore season, when he threw for 3,203 yards and 28 touchdowns while out of the national spotlight in the Mountain West Conference.

But Allen is 0-2 against Power 5 programs with his third — and perhaps final — opportunity coming Saturday when Oregon (2-0) visits the Cowboys (1-1) at 4 p.m.

“It doesn’t really feel different,” Allen said of facing a Pac-12 opponent. “When you’re on the field, you don’t hear or see anyone in the stands. I don’t care what people are thinking or saying about me.”

Allen threw for 189 yards with five interceptions last year in a 52-17 loss at Nebraska. The Cowboys opened this season with a 24-3 loss at Iowa in which Allen threw for 174 yards with two interceptions.

Allen completed 39-of-72 passes for 363 yards and one touchdown with seven interceptions as the Cowboys averaged 10 points in those two games against programs in the middle of the Big Ten.

“I haven’t played real well,” Allen said of his games against Power 5 programs. “I didn’t play well against Nebraska and had two interceptions and no touchdowns against Iowa. I understand that’s not good enough.”

Allen is 9-8 as Wyoming’s starting quarterback, his best wins coming against Boise State and San Diego State at home last year.

“This is an opportunity for us to go out and show everyone that we’re a real team,” Allen said. “We didn’t play particularly well against Iowa, but that’s not going to bother us. It’s out of our minds now, so we look at this week as a big opportunity.”

Wyoming is expecting scouts from up to 20 NFL teams to watch Allen face the Ducks.

Allen could have left for the NFL after last year, but he returned for his redshirt junior season. When 2018 mock drafts started coming out in the spring, he joined USC’s Sam Darnold and UCLA’s Josh Rosen as the top quarterbacks.

“In all the years I’ve been coaching, I don’t know if I’ve seen a quarterback this good,” Oregon defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt said Wednesday. “He makes all the throws. He’s strong and can move. He does a good job with the offense and is so talented.”

The national media came calling on Allen during the summer for interviews and he’s the lone Wyoming player who does a weekly press conference.

“He’s done an excellent job handling the exposure and expectations,” Wyoming coach Craig Bohl said. “His role is to do the best he can for the Wyoming Cowboys. He has really excluded all the outside attention. You hear about the individual attention, and there are only a certain number of quarterbacks who are real NFL prospects and he’s one of them. ... I know he’s on the radar for a lot of teams and with all the hoopla, he’s done a great job staying focused.”

Allen went from Firebaugh, Calif., to Reedley Community College near Fresno to earn a scholarship offer from Bohl. Just 13 plays into his first start against Eastern Michigan in 2015, he suffered a shoulder injury and missed the rest of the season.

Wyoming went 6-2 last year in the MWC to capture the Mountain Division title. The Cowboys lost 27-24 to San Diego State in the conference title game and fell 24-21 to BYU in the Poinsettia Bowl.

Allen had some pro talent around him last year. Brian Hill, who rushed for 1,860 yards last season, is playing for the Atlanta Falcons and wide receiver Tanner Gentry is with the Chicago Bears after catching 72 passes for 1,326 yards and 14 touchdowns during his final season in Laramie. Tight end Jacob Hollister is with the Patriots, and center Chase Roullier is playing for Washington.

Wyoming lost its top three receivers, who combined for 143 of Allen’s 209 completions, from last year.

“Josh knows our entire offense front and back,” said Wyoming running back Trey Woods, a true freshman from North Bend. “He knows what every person is doing, so if you have questions, he can help you right away so there’s no confusion.”

Sophomore C.J. Johnson had 21 catches last season but no other returning receiver had more than 11. Sophomore Austin Conway has 19 catches for 186 yards and one touchdown to lead the Cowboys.

“I have to allow my receivers to make plays and develop some chemistry,” Allen said. “Throughout practice, I’m gaining more trust in the guys. We have a few young guys that are capable of making plays. I have to trust in them.”

Allen went 22-for-32 for 328 yards with two touchdowns in Saturday’s 27-0 victory over Gardner-Webb, but Oregon presents a different challenge.

“We don’t care if the game is on national TV or if nobody is watching, we want to go out and win,” Allen said.

The Ducks likely present Allen with his final opportunity in college for a victory that would grab the nation’s attention.

“He needs to show up for us in big games like this,” Bohl said. “Your primary players have to answer the bell, and he’ll embrace this opportunity.”

Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen runs from Iowa linebacker Ben Niemann, right, during the first half of a recent game in Iowa City, Iowa. Iowa won, 24-3. [CHARLIE NEIBERGALL/THE ASSOCIATED PRESS]