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Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen gets second shot at Eastern Michigan

September 23, 2016

Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen scrambles for yardage against UC Davis Saturday at War Memorial Stadium in Laramie, Wyo.

LARAMIE, Wyo. — Josh Allen had been told his collarbone couldn’t break again.

His sophomore year of high school, the quarterback broke his right clavicle, a small fracture that sidelined him for four weeks.

“They said when I broke it my sophomore year that the calcium buildup there would prevent a break in that spot ever again,” said Allen, now a redshirt sophomore at Wyoming. “So it just happened to break in seven spots last year.”

Allen was making his first Division-I start when he took a big hit at the end of a 24-yard scramble against Eastern Michigan.

He didn’t think it could’ve been a collarbone injury.

“I couldn’t move it at all when it happened in high school,” he said. “But (against) Eastern Michigan I got up and I moved it around.”

Turns out, his self-diagnosis was incorrect. He was out for the rest of the season with a broken collarbone.

“My collarbone was just hanging there,” he said. “So that’s why I was able to move it.”

Friday, Allen gets another shot at the Eagles in a rematch of what turned out to be a 48-29 Eastern Michigan win in 2015.

“I did see that, and I knew that,” Allen said of the EMU rematch being on Wyoming’s schedule, “but at the same time, last year was a blessing in disguise, being able to sit out a year and really obtain the knowledge to run this offense that I needed to obtain.

“There’s multiple ways to look at it, but I choose to look at the brighter side.”

Wyoming threw just 13 passes once third-string quarterback Nick Smith came in to replace Allen, who was replacing injured starter Cameron Coffman.

A year later, Allen is healthy, and the Cowboys’ offense is better for it. Through three games, Allen has completed more than 60 percent of his passes for 632 yards and a Mountain West-best six touchdowns. He has accounted for 16 points per game, also tops in the conference and top-30 in the nation. His 8.32 yards per attempt and 242.3 yards of total offense per game are each second-best among MW quarterbacks.

Wyoming, meanwhile, is off to a 2-1 start with an offense that already has helped it become just the fifth Cowboys team in the last 16 years to reach the 40-point mark twice in one season. In those two games, Allen threw for five touchdowns and ran for two more.

The Firebaugh, Calif., native was playing pretty well before he got hurt against Eastern Michigan, too.

“Oh yeah, I was very happy,” he said. “I think I was like 3-for-4 and had some rush yards, but it was unfortunate how things kind of ended my season last year. But that’s over and done with, behind us, and now we’re looking onto this year.”

In multiple regards, Allen has had no choice but to take that approach to his second career road start.

The preparation he did for Eastern Michigan a year ago is mostly unhelpful, seeing as the Eagles have a new defensive coordinator and scheme.

And Allen doesn’t remember which player gave him the injury, so he’s not exactly out for revenge.

“I can’t even remember the number,” he said. “It happens. It’s the game of football, and you’ve got to love this game.”

Plus, it’s not like he’s going to let that hit give him a tentative approach toward running the ball.

“You’ve got to play the game of football,” he said. “Obviously, last year was a little bit of a fluke thing in my opinion. His helmet just kind of squeezed in between my shoulder pads and my helmet. But (I’ve had) to learn how to take less hits and take the less big hits, you could say. Just being able to slide off and just really protect myself is the main thing.

“But I’m 6-5, 225 pounds, and defensive backs, they’re a little smaller. It’s not a huge concern, taking hits from them.”

It’s nothing he hasn’t done before.

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