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Gazzolo Column: New energy surrounding these Cowboys

Last Modified: Saturday, September 07, 2013 10:35 PM

By Jim Gazzolo / American Press

There will be tougher games ahead, that much you can be sure of.

The opponents will be bigger, stronger and faster. The games will be more meaningful.

But for now, this is to be enjoyed.

For the second straight week McNeese State pounded an opponent, dropping over half-a-hundred points along the way.

Proving their lopsided win over South Florida was not a fluke, the Cowboys took defending SWAC champion Arkansas-Pine Bluff out to the woodshed Saturday night.

McNeese's 58-14 victory proved there was no let down after knocking off a team from one of those big BCS conferences by 32 points a week earlier.

You wondered if this group was going to come back down to earth after that 53-21 victory over South Florida that made them, not the Bulls, look like a team from college football's top division.

Playing somebody from their own level proved just as easy.

But while winning is nice, the Cowboys had done this same thing last year. They beat Middle Tennessee State in the opener and came home to thump some Division II school.

So we have seen the outcome, but this has a different look.

It's not the win, or even the scores, that catch your eye, it is how the Cowboys are playing the game that makes you think there is a rebirth of the program taking place.

O.K., O.K., rebirth might be a little much, for McNeese was never really dead. More like an awakening from a few years of slumber, at least when it came to success in the postseason.

So let's call this a rejuvenation for now.

There is a new energy surrounding these Cowboys.  

Over the past few years McNeese seemed to be slugging through mud more often than not. They appeared to play slow and often down to their competition.

This team looks more like it is running on a fast track.

The best way to put it is this: last year's club looked like a team playing not to lose, this group looks like a team playing to win.

And it is not just the defense with a new attitude. It's the offense and special teams.

You see it in how the Cowboys hustle on and off the field, almost racing each other to the huddle.

That goes for all aspects of McNeese. There is a fresh step in the entire program, from the excitement on campus to the parking lot before the game.

There seems to be joy in this Mudville once again.

Then there is the way they went about their business Saturday night. There were no big-heads, no taking of an underdog opponent lightly.

On a night when they could have lifted their foot off the gas, these Cowboys simply stepped on the pedal.

If there was any question of their intentions, it came 48 seconds into the second half.

Up 37-14 at the break, McNeese came out and put this one away, scoring on three plays while covering 51 yards over just that short period of time.

That's what good football teams do, they know when not to let up.

As we said, the season is still young as is the team in general. And there are going to be much tougher tests along the way, games that will ultimately decided the fate of this season.

That, however, is for later.

For now, it's just fun to sit back and enjoy the moment.

Worry is for another Saturday down the road.

• • •

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

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