Svoboda embracing change as UW's new starting QB

Apr. 3—LARAMIE — With the University of Wyoming trailing Toledo 15-13 in the fourth quarter of last year's Arizona Bowl, starting quarterback Andrew Peasley started the Cowboys' final drive with a 26-yard completion to Ayir Asante.

After getting the pass off, Peasley went down with a non-contact injury, forcing backup Evan Svoboda into the game. The 6-foot-5 Snow College transfer led the Cowboys 61 yards down the field in 11 plays, setting up a game-winning field goal attempt from John Hoyland.

Hoyland knocked the kick through, giving UW its first nine-win season since 1996.

"Andrew and I talked, and I think Evan has the tools that are unique," former head coach Craig Bohl said after the bowl game. "He is still somewhat raw, but he has a very strong arm, and he's learning how to play quarterback better. Andrew's done a nice job mentoring him.

"He can put the ball in different places on the field that very few quarterbacks can. When you have that kind of ability, it stresses the defense. I'm not saying I have good eyes, but I have damn-good eyes as far as quarterbacks and how they're throwing the ball and putting it in different places. I think he can do that."

Added Peasley: "The way Evan throws and the way it comes out of his hand, he's still got some stuff to learn, but I think he's going to have a bright future here."

The Arizona Bowl wasn't Svoboda's only game action last season. He started on the road against Texas in front of more than 100,000 fans, finishing the night 17-of-28 for 136 yards. The Cowboys were tied with the Longhorns — who went on to play in the four-team College Football Playoff — going into the fourth quarter.

"(Those experiences) give me all the confidence in the world," Svoboda told WyoSports last week. "When you go out there and compete with the best of the best, you start asking yourself, 'Who can't you compete with?'

"Not only that, but it just gives me more comfort moving forward, so I can play much more relaxed. I think the biggest aspect is just that confidence part where, moving forward, it's like, 'OK, you can go out there and compete; let's go do it against everybody else.'"

Former UW defensive coordinator Jay Sawvel was promoted to replace Bohl following his retirement after the bowl game. He named Svoboda the starting quarterback during his first month on the job.

The pair shared a funny moment just before UW's first spring practice last Tuesday in the Indoor Practice Facility.

"You go to practice, and it's your first practice as a head coach, and for him, it's his first full-time deal as a starting quarterback," Sawvel said. "I see him right before practice and he says, 'Are you ready to do this?' and I'm like, 'Yeah.' It was good. We've got a really good thing going, so we're happy for him."

"... He is just so excited and so engaged. That guy is ready. He will be ready when the season starts."

Svoboda credits Peasley for teaching him how to be a leader during their time together in Laramie. With Peasley now graduated, it's Svoboda's turn to take over the locker room, a task the new starting quarterback isn't taking lightly.

"(Peasley) showed me everything," Svoboda said. "I look up to that guy. When you're behind him all the time, you really look up to him when you see how he handles situations and how he influences the team.

"That's biggest thing he did: He did a really good job of getting guys' attention and holding people accountable and just being that overall leader and that overall guy that everyone looks up to."

After seeing how Peasley took control over the past two seasons, Svoboda wants to follow a similar path now that he's the guy at the top of the depth chart.

"(My goals are) mastering the offense and being able to move forward as a leader," Svoboda said. "I want to be a guy that other guys can look up to. How can I influence them out there on the field, and how can I hold them accountable and just be that overall leader?"

Svoboda has embraced the handful of coaching changes at UW this offseason, including working with new offensive coordinator Jay Johnson. The pair's relationship has been productive so far this spring, Svoboda said.

"He's been tremendous," Svoboda said. "Everything he's been doing with us this offseason, we're rolling forward with the offense. He's a great communicator and very welcoming. He's been around. He's been around a bunch of different schools, and he's been a quarterback coach for a while.

"... He's very technical with everything, from footwork to throwing angles. That's a really cool piece and a really cool addition to this season, and it's something that I'm looking forward to."

Being in the starting lineup full-time is cause for excitement on its own, but Svoboda's most looking forward to utilizing all the offensive weapons around him on the field. His roommate, tight end John Michael Gyllenborg, could be a top candidate for Svoboda's favorite target this fall.

"Obviously, (the offense is) new to everybody. We're all picking up on it still," Svoboda said. "I could see ourselves in the future being a tremendous offense, just with the tempo and moving fast and the urgency.That's a big step in our game moving forward.

"Older guys like (Alex Brown) and Will Pelissier and tight ends and fullbacks like (Gyllenborg) and (Caleb Driskill), those are big guys that are going to step up. ... We have a lot of weapons on offense, and it's exciting to look forward to."

Alex Taylor is the assistant editor for WyoSports and covers University of Wyoming athletics. He can be reached at Follow him on X at @alex_m_taylor22.