Kevin Bullis continues to see new things from Cole Wilber.
Wilber has now spent the better part of three seasons as UW-Whitewater’s quarterback, but it appears he’s saving his best for the final months of his collegiate career.
The senior has thrown multiple touchdown passes in seven games this season, has put himself near the top of some of the NCAA Division III passing categories and has UW-W at 9-0 heading into the team’s regular-season finale Saturday at UW-Platteville.
“This past game, his ability to hang in there on a free-hitter ... he took a couple hits on some blitzes and hung in there,” said Bullis, the Warhawks’ head coach. “That’s something I’ve never seen him do before.”
Bullis also praised his quarterback’s ability to bounce back.
Wilber threw in an interception on the Warhawks’ first second-half possession Saturday against Stevens Point.
The Pointers turned around and scored their lone touchdown.
UW-W’s offense responded with a six-play drive to score a touchdown and regain momentum on the way to a 59-7 blowout.
“Any time a player makes a big mistake or has a big error, I want to approach them and see where they’re at. And he looked good,” Bullis said. “Cole went down and led the offense down the field for another score and got that score back.
“To see that sense of confidence to bounce back, that sense of confidence in himself and confidence in our offense, those are the two things that, to me, in that game, stood out—Cole’s leadership and his managing the pocket.”
On the season, Wilber has completed 126 of 207 passes (56 percent) for 1,905 yards with 19 touchdowns and six interceptions. In 10 games last year, he had about the same completion percentage and threw for 2,067 yards with 13 touchdowns and nine interceptions. As a sophomore, he threw for 1,868 yards, 11 touchdowns and eight interceptions.
Wilber ranks seventh in the nation in passing yards per completion (16.41), 20th in passing yards per attempt and is in the top 35 in quarterback efficiency.
He’s shown an ability to spread the wealth, as three different Warhawks receivers have at least four touchdown catches.
And speaking of catches, Wilber even caught a touchdown on a trick play last weekend.
Bullis said Wilber has built an increased confidence in the offensive line in front of him throughout the season. In Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference play, he’s thrown 14 touchdown passes and just four interceptions.
Boasting one of the top defenses in all of Division III football, Bullis could ask Wilber to simply be a game manager. But with a senior at the helm, they continue to allow him freedom within his game. As tests get tougher heading into the postseason, UW-W will almost certainly need to rely on Wilber’s play-making abilities.
“His ability to throw a ball and put it on a dime is utterly amazing,” Bullis said. “The other part of it is having confidence in your defense.”
Lastly, Wilber seems to be thriving under the tutelage of first-year offensive coordinator Peter Jennings.
“He’s definitely a quarterback whisperer,” Bullis said.
Platteville enters Saturday’s game on a four-game losing streak in which it has allowed an average of 36 points per game.
Wilber will look to add to his numbers and have his confidence at an all-time high heading into the Division III playoffs.