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McNeese State cornerback Guy Morgan is questionable for Saturday's game against Northwestern State. (American Press)

McNeese State cornerback Guy Morgan is questionable for Saturday's game against Northwestern State. (American Press)

Injury-plagued Cowboys have holes to fill on both sides of ball

Last Modified: Thursday, September 27, 2012 9:03 PM

By Alex Hickey / American Press

Who knew McMurry would be the smartest piece of nonconference scheduling for McNeese State this year?

With a slew of starters rendered more questionable than Lady Gaga’s wardrobe selections for this Saturday’s game against Northwestern State, a number of players who saw significant action against the Division II War Hawks three weeks ago will be filling a bigger role than previously expected.

There are a number of potential holes to be filled on both sides of the ball. Nowhere is the void more evident than on defense, especially in the secondary.

“We’ve moved some kids up and moved kids around some to create some depth at positions,” Viator said. “We had some kids gain valuable experience last week, and he’ll have to go again.”

Safety Ford Smesny and cornerback Guy Morgan are questionable, and safety Wallace Scott joins Malcolm Bronson and Livingston Hamilton on the list of those who are out.

Safety Ryan Bronson is expected to play, but his ability to intercept passes won’t be helped by the presence of a cast over his left hand.

Viator said he will activate another true freshman, Steele Merritt, to help create more depth in the defensive backfield this week. Last week the Cowboys did the same with Brent Spikes, who responded with five tackles — one for a loss — in his college debut.

“The first time we walked out on the field and came out of the locker room, I realized ‘This is college,’” Spikes said. “I felt comfortable playing. It wasn’t too fast or anything. It was just a regular game. Even when I was sitting out, Coach (Chris Hampton) was still telling me to watch and learn for next year. When I was playing, I took everything the older guys had told me and used it.”

Players like sophomore Aaron Sam and freshman Gabe Hamner figure to see increased roles this weekend.

“(Sam) is definitely deep in the mix,” Viator said. “He plays every game, and his role will increase.”

True freshman Bo Brown will continue to see playing time at linebacker with Joe Narcisse and Orrin Fontenot both dinged up, though Narcisse is practicing again after missing last week’s game at Southeastern Louisiana. Brown is sixth on the team with 14 tackles.

On offense, tight end Josh Jordan and running back Marcus Wiltz are again questionable after missing last week.

If Wiltz is unable to play, redshirt freshman Kelvin Bennett will be McNeese’s No. 3 option at tailback. Viator said Bennett was prepared to play last week, but the fact the Cowboys ran 20 offensive plays in the second half kept him off the field.

“We just didn’t have enough snaps in the second half,” Viator said. “We feel that Kelvin Bennett’s definitely ready.”

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