Transfer drama comes to a head as Utah State takes on Wyoming, Andrew Peasley

Utah State Aggies quarterback Andrew Peasley (6) prepares to pass against the New Mexico Lobos defense during an NCAA football game at Maverik Stadium in Logan on Thursday, Nov. 26, 2020. (Yukai Peng , Deseret News)

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LOGAN – This is a bilateral situation for the State of Utah.

The Aggies lost replacement quarterback Andrew Peasley to the transfer gate in the offseason, where he became Wyoming’s starter. Levi Williams left his starting spot at Wyoming quarterback and entered the transfer portal where he found a new home as a backup at Utah State.

A classic quarterback trade in the modern era of college football.

Two student-athletes taking advantage of the anarchy of the transfer portal to do what’s best for them. For Peasley, it was a chance to be the starter; and for Williams, it was a chance to bond with her fiancé, Utah State volleyball player Tatum Stall, and compete for a program that seemed more stable at the time.

Decisions were made, reactions took place and everyone moved on. Right?

It’s a little harder to do when the two schools are divisional rivals, because Saturday night in Laramie, the situation gets carried away.

Peasley will lead the Cowboys offense against his former team. And the Aggies quarterback situation could also see Williams start if his ankle heals and starter Cooper Legas can’t clear concussion protocol. If Williams, who is still listed as “day-to-day,” can’t go, the starter will be Bishop Davenport.

With the Aggies’ coaching staff tight-lipped about Williams’ ankle injury, discussion of the former Cowboys quarterback in media interviews this week has been limited; however, much has been said about Peasley.

The quarterback who started two games in 2020 for the Aggies and played vital roles last year when Logan Bonner was knocked out of games – including once he led the team to a memorable 45 win -42 vs. Air Force – stands between Utah State taking over the Briger’s Rifle and going 3-1 in conference.

“I’ve spoken to him several times this year,” Aggies head coach Blake Anderson said. “Love the kid, cheer him on, congratulations on his big wins, good luck every week but one, and I mean it.

“I cried when the kid told me he was leaving. I love the kid and loved what he brought to our table – wish him the best – but on Saturday we have to trying to make him really, really uncomfortable.”

Running back Calvin Tyler Jr., who once held a similar position — he traded from Oregon State and then faced the Beavers in the LA Bowl — knows Peasley well and recognizes his mentality.

“(Peasley) was one of the first guys I talked to when I came to Utah State, and he tried to teach me all the parts,” Tyler said. “He was actually my locker mate, his was the locker in front of me. So me and Peas talked a lot, we went out together.

“I know the feeling of playing at Oregon State, last year. I know that kind of mentality that he has right now, and I said to the defense ‘guys get ready’ because he wants it to be his best game ever.”

Peasley, who is averaging 143.6 passing yards and 33.4 rushing yards per game this season, admitted during media days in July that he had the game circled on his schedule. But this week, he clarified that it would not come from any animosity towards his former team.

“It will be nice to see people I haven’t seen in a while. I have a lot of love for the people on this team,” Peasley told “But when Saturday rolls around, all that love will turn into battle. That’s how it is.”

“I’m sure he’s going to do whatever he can to put those individual feelings aside,” Wyoming coach Craig Bohls said. “I know he has a lot of respect for a lot of the players that are there and for coach Anderson, so it’s not like he has a bad feeling. I think he has a lot of respect and we expect Andrew to play well.”

The only member of the quarterback trade guaranteed to play on Saturday, it’s no surprise that Peasley has become the main storyline. But what’s interesting is that the love-fest for the junior quarterback hasn’t been reciprocated with his Aggies counterpart.

In a 14-minute press conference this week, Bohl was asked twice about the Aggies’ quarterback situation. He mentioned Legas and Davenport but kept Williams’ name out of the conversation. Bohl was asked about last year’s win over Utah State, where Williams passed for 242 yards and two touchdowns to beat the Aggies, but he failed to mention it again.

Meanwhile, a former Williams teammate didn’t give a particularly rave review.

“Sometimes people just want to go see if the grass is greener on the other side,” Wyoming defensive tackle Jordan Bertagnole told the Casper Star Tribune. “Even though I respect his decision, sometimes I’m like, ‘Was that really the best decision?’

There still seems to be salt in the wounds. It’s understandable to see, as Williams appears to be demoted from a starting position to a backup role, but the contrast to how Utah State views Peasley’s departure is shocking.

“Andrew is a great guy,” offensive lineman Wade Meacham said. “He’s an awesome athlete, a great quarterback. We were really sad to see him go.”

For the Aggies, the beef is more about the game itself, as last year Wyoming snapped Utah State’s five-game winning streak, hammering the Aggies 44-17 on senior night.

“I didn’t know it was a rivalry, I just remember them taking the shotgun from us,” Tyler said. “And I want the shotgun back.”

Anderson, who played down the rivalry aspect of the game this week, admitted watching Wyoming take the Bridger Rifle last year was “enough to piss me off.”

It’s a pivotal matchup for both teams, with implications for the division title, and Peasley’s presence certainly adds spice. If Williams ends up playing, he would be trying to avenge a loss he helped cause last season.

“The wind will be blowing at 30 miles an hour, probably pretty cold,” Anderson said. “Who knows who will play for us, we have to find a way.”

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