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Gazzolo Column: Even on an off night, these Cowboys are pretty good

Last Modified: Saturday, September 21, 2013 10:49 PM

By Jim Gazzolo / American Press

On a keep-your-pajamas-on-and-stay-in-bed weekend, McNeese State put on its work clothes and went about its business.

Saturday night there was no exciting finish or electrifying offense. This was like the rainy weekend we all had, just something to get through.

The Cowboys did that and made another statement along the way.

By hammering Weber State 43-6, McNeese proved it has plenty of fire power even when not at its best.

For a good portion of the night the Cowboys' play was as gloomy as the weather.

And still they won by 37.

The water-logged crowd made little noise and provided even less energy, and still the Cowboys won by 37.

And an offense that had been clicking committed eight, that's right eight, false start penalties at home, with a quiet crowd.

And they still won by 37.

That says a lot about this team. It also says a lot about the opponent.

"I'm proud of the way we kept fighting," said head Cowboys coach Matt Viator.

He knows eight 5-yard penalties will not work next week, when the Cowboys start the meat of their schedule with the first of three straight games against FCS ranked teams in four weeks.

The start of that gauntlet is at Northern Iowa, which plays inside something called the UNI-Dome in front of some wild and noisy crowd.

"We have things we have to clean up," Viator said.

If the focus isn't better eight false starts could easily become 15.

Then again, this team is showing it does what needs to be done when it needs to do it.

Thumping Weber on a night when they were not at their best could be the greatest sign of all.

"To have a season like the one we want to have, you have to win games like this," said safety Terrence Cahee. "We have a few kinks to work out, but we will always keep fighting."

Like giving up a long touchdown on the first drive, which the Cowboys did again.

"That seems to happen to us too much," said defensive end Chris Loveless. "But we just go right back out there and keep working."

In the opening three games the Cowboys threw their share of knockout punches, haymakers in the form of big plays.

Saturday night they threw jab after jab, going to the body of Weber until it was time for the kill.

"We are like a boxer, we attack the cuts," Cahee said.

By now McNeese fans might be a little punch-drunk with excitement. A 4-0 start has hopes of big things coming.

Saturday night did nothing to change that.

To score 43 on a night when nothing started right means this team can expect even more fun ahead.

"This team has learned how to play and what it takes to win," Viator said. "I thought tonight was a tough game and one that could have been a lot different if we didn't keep fighting through the mistakes.

"That's what you like about this team, they never got down. One bad play doesn't lead to another."

And the Cowboys are making more than their share of good plays as well.

Next they take to the road and we find out of this act they have put together can travel.

"One game at a time," Loveless said. "This was at the most important game of the year to us. Next week will be the most important game of the year.

"We don't look past that."

After scoring 43 on a off night, excuse the rest of us if we get caught looking ahead.

After a gloomy weekend, with this group the future seems much brighter.

• • •

Jim Gazzolo is managing sports editor. Email him at jgazzolo@americanpress.com

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