(Rick Hickman / American Press)
Last Modified: Wednesday, August 21, 2013 9:50 PM
Anyone who saw McNeese State live for the first time this preseason at Wednesday’s Cowboy Night scrimmage may be wondering what all the fuss is over the defense.
Senior quarterback Cody Stroud and the rest of the offense looked sharp throughout the training camp-ending scrimmage, scoring multiple touchdowns and never turning the ball over until the third-string offense and defense were on the field late in the proceedings.
“It seems like every scrimmage since I’ve been here, whether it’s spring or fall, defense gets one and then the offense gets the other,” Stroud said. “It was nice to see a lot of plays made. The receivers made plays and I just had to put it in their hands. It was an easy job for me today.”
It took the first-string offense six plays to march 70 yards against the No. 2 defense in the opening possession, with three Marcus Wiltz runs and three Stroud completions doing the damage. Stroud hit a wide-open Kendale Thomas for a 6-yard touchdown.
The Cowboys looked even sharper in their 2-minute offense. Stroud connected with true freshman wide receiver Kent Shelby on an 11-yard pass, finishing off a seven-play, 65-yard drive on the No. 1 defense in less than a minute.
“The line looked good. With the ones, I didn’t get touched,” Stroud said. “Especially in the 2-minute. I didn’t come close to getting touched. They didn’t get any pressure whatsoever, so that was good to see.”
It was a much different scene from McNeese’s first scrimmage on Saturday. The only touchdown in that 100-play session came from a yard out after a 25-yard drive.
“I was really excited. We executed better than we did the other day, obviously,” said head coach Matt Viator. “We’re looking to improve. It’s 20 practices in, so one day it’s one unit (dictating) and one day it’s the other. We just have to keep plugging along and getting better each day.”
Transfer tight end Nic Jacobs demonstrated his versatility.
The 6-foot-5, 255-pounder matched his bear-like size with gazelle-like speed when he blew through the defense for a 44-yard touchdown reception from Tyler Bolfing.
“I feel like I’m proving people wrong. People just feel I’m a blocking tight end,” Jacobs said. “But I feel like that touchdown there showed I can be a receiving tight end as well.”
Sophomore running back Kelvin Bennett flashed the speed he demonstrated in his limited carries last season, going virtually untouched for a 56-yard touchdown against the reserve defense.
The strangest play of the scrimmage was undoubtedly Will Briscoe’s 47-yard touchdown pass to Keajon Mitchell. Briscoe underthrew the severely wide-open Mitchell, who seemed surprised to have no one around and stopped running as he made the catch. Mitchell’s unexpected pause caused the two nearest defenders, Shea Nutt and Gabe Hamner, to collide with one another and opened the door to the end zone.
Viator said the film from the scrimmage would be the final piece in deciding who will make the travel roster for next week’s season opener at South Florida. He said about 60 of the 70 spots have been determined.
“What we’re looking at tonight is if a bunch of different kids in the kicking game were doing what they were supposed to be doing,” Viator said. “It’s going to come down to an offensive lineman or two, a defensive lineman or two, a DB or two. Hopefully we get a good look at that.”
• NOTES: Several players sat out the scrimmage, with wide receiver Ernest Celestie, linebacker Hayden Dobbs, defensive end Chris Loveless and running back Terrell Alfred the most notable. Celestie was the only one with a visually obvious injury, wearing a walking boot on his right foot. Viator said Celestie will be reassessed by trainers early next week.