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McNeese State running back Marcus Wiltz. (Associated Press)<br>

McNeese State running back Marcus Wiltz. (Associated Press)

Idle Cowboys riding wave of momentum after win at UCA

Last Modified: Tuesday, October 08, 2013 9:02 PM

By Alex Hickey / American Press

Funny how much can change in a week.

Way back in the days of last week, the situation was looking grim for McNeese State. The Cowboys were coming off a long trip and 41-6 loss at Northern Iowa, only to have it followed by another long road trip to a stadium in which they had never won a game.

Now, everything is strawberries and champagne.

The ninth-ranked Cowboys (5-1) are riding a wave of momentum after their 59-28 win at Central Arkansas, and have an extra week to prepare for a showdown with No. 2 Sam Houston State on Oct. 19 thanks to a bye this week.

“It’s the perfect time for a bye week,” said quarterback Cody Stroud. “Not only is it the week between Central Arkansas and Sam Houston, but it’s right in the middle of the season. It’s not like it’s Week 3 and you have nine weeks after that where you have to grind.”

While getting an edge in preparation for the Bearkats is certainly important, McNeese needed a week to recharge its batteries regardless of the next opponent.

“We have had 10 straight weeks with August camp and games,” said Cowboys head coach Matt Viator. “It’s sorely needed to get our legs back and ready for the conference stretch.”

The Cowboys have a normal practice schedule until today. The players will get Thursday-Saturday off before returning on Sunday.

Some players need the rest more than others.

For the linemen, the open date comes at an ideal time.

“It’s big for everyone on the team, but especially the offensive and defensive line pushing and getting nasty with people every day,” said center Nick Gorman. “We’re getting our bodies back and rejuvenated.”

The same holds true for players needing a little extra time to recuperate from a nagging injury, as is the case with senior wide receiver Ernest Celestie.

Celestie hasn’t missed any game time, but has only been practicing a couple days a week, if at all, due to a foot injury.

“We’ve been talking about this bye week for awhile now,” Celestie said. “It’s much needed for myself. I get a hard time because people are calling it a two-week vacation for Ernest, but it really is important to me to give myself time to heal for next week.”

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