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Safety Ryan Bronson gets a handful of tailback Marcus Wiltz’s face mask after a reception during McNeese State’s second spring scrimmage Saturday at Cowboy Stadium. (Rick Hickman / American Press)<br>

Safety Ryan Bronson gets a handful of tailback Marcus Wiltz’s face mask after a reception during McNeese State’s second spring scrimmage Saturday at Cowboy Stadium. (Rick Hickman / American Press)

McNeese defense gets edge in scrimmage

Last Modified: Monday, April 08, 2013 9:59 AM

By Alex Hickey / American Press

The shorter the field, the better the McNeese State defense got in Saturday’s scrimmage at Cowboy Stadium.

After allowing a pair of 75-yard drives for touchdowns early, McNeese’s defenders were able to keep their counterparts out of the end zone for nearly the remainder of the 100-play scrimmage.

“The offense did good from the 25, both the 1’s and 3’s scored and the 2’s moved the ball good,” said head coach Matt Viator. “From the 50, the offense didn’t do anything. The defense dominated that for sure.”

McNeese’s No. 1 offense scored on its first possession with a Marcus Wiltz 1-yard run, but didn’t cross the goal line again until its final play of the scrimmage when Cody Stroud hit Diontae Spencer with a 23-yard touchdown pass.

“We had to wake up out there,” said defensive end Chris Loveless, who had 2.5 sacks. “Whenever they start scoring on us at will, we had to take it personal. We had to go out there and make sure we made our mark.”

“Chris has had his best offseason,” Viator said of Loveless. “In terms of strength and conditioning, commitment and everything else. I think it’s showing on the field, and I think he knows it and sees it. I think we’ll have some really good play out of our ends this year.”

The offense was not helped by the fact there were as many running backs in street clothes as pads. Javaris Murray, Kelvin Bennett, Terrell Alfred and Jontrey Tillman all sat out the scrimmage.

“We have a couple kids who have worked hard who got some work (at tailback),” Viator said. “It always gives some other kids an opportunity to get in and do some stuff. We’re fortunate that none of the four out are serious. Obviously we’d like for kids to practice, but as long as we get them back, that’s what we’re looking for.”

It was not a great day of pitch-and-catch for the offense. Stroud, the starting quarterback, finished 10 of 21 for 117 yards.

Leon Blouin also got a shot running the No. 1 offense, but was picked off by Ryan Bronson and Guy Morgan on his first two throws. Blouin finished 1 of 7 for 15 yards.

The offense was also plagued by a handful of drops.

However, Bronson said he thinks the secondary has stepped up its game as it replaces graduated starters Malcolm Bronson, Seth Thomas and Ford Smesny as well as the injured Aaron Sam.

“We’ve all stayed strong,” Ryan Bronson said. “We all come together, work hard, practice hard. We’re all in it to win.”

McNeese will conclude its spring workouts with this Saturday’s spring game.

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