McNeese State head football coach Matt Viator. (American Press)
Last Modified: Thursday, September 20, 2012 11:20 PM
The difficulty of replacing an injured starter is expedited when that player is also one of the team’s key leaders on and off the field.
It’s expedited exponentially when you have to replace two of them in the same game.
That’s the prospect facing McNeese State in this week’s Southland Conference opener at Southeastern Louisiana in Hammond.
Starting free safety Malcolm Bronson is finished for the season, and for this week he may be joined in a track suit by linebacker Joe Narcisse, whom Cowboys head coach Matt Viator described as questionable for Saturday’s game.
Narcisse has done all of his playbook and film preparations for the Lions (0-3) but has yet to participate in a practice after hurting a shoulder against Weber State last week.
Narcisse and Bronson are arguably the most vocal players on the defensive unit, if not the entire team, potentially leaving a wide leadership void for the Cowboys.
Viator said he thinks junior linebacker Hayden Dobbs could be the one who steps up in their absence.
“Hayden Dobbs has played a lot of football for us,” Viator said. “(Freshman) Bo Brown has stepped up and played well for us. We’ve played (big) numbers, and those guys will have to step up and play.”
The good news for the defense is second-unit linebacker Orrin Fontenot is practicing and likely to play after missing last week’s game.
Adjustments were made in the secondary to try and compensate for the loss of Bronson.
Malcolm’s younger brother, junior Ryan Bronson, will start in his place. Senior Chris Raggett and freshman Wallace Scott, listed as the backups and buck safety and wide safety, have also taken practice reps at free safety.
“Any way I can help the team, I’m ready to step it up,” Bronson said. “Malcolm’s a leader, he’s already ready to work, always willing to learn. He brings that energy to football every day. I’ve just got to step it up. We’re all going to have to battle together as a team.”
Viator said he believes there is enough depth in the secondary for the Cowboys to continue building on their 3-0 start. Right now his greater concern is being there to support Malcolm Bronson through his knee rehab process.
“We’re disappointed for Malcolm. That’s the main thing,” Viator said. “We want to be here for him. We’ve got to move forward (as a team) and we will.”