For McNeese State, football season starts today.
OK, so technically speaking it began on Tuesday when 95 players reported for physicals and other necessary meetings before hitting the practice fields for the first time this afternoon.
“The guys are excited. There’s certainly an energy. They’re very anxious,” said Cowboys head coach Matt Viator. “I hate to say it’s business as usual, no first days are. But so far, so good.”
The eighth-year head coach said everyone showed up as expected, including summer transfer Ryan Rome, a kicker from Tulane. The graduate student from Destrehan has one year of eligibility remaining. He was a kickoff specialist for the Green Wave, but was stuck behind Lou Groza Award winner Cairo Santos on the depth chart.
Viator said Rome is expected to serve as McNeese’s placekicker this season.
Viator said the only player who will definitely be sidelined for the season is incoming freshman linebacker Ed Duplessis, who will take a redshirt after suffering an Achilles injury in the spring.
The theme for this year’s camp is developing depth. Viator said he will be giving several players a look at new positions early on, mostly to give them repetitions in those spots should they be needed in a pinch midseason.
“We’re trying to create as much depth as we can. That’s what August camp is about,” he said. “In the secondary and O-line we may move some guys around and then move them back to their original position just trying to create that depth.”
There will be a total of four two-a-days this year, up from two a year ago. Both the season and the school year start later this year, which Viator said accounts for the change.
McNeese will practice in helmets only for the first time on Friday, then don full pads for the first time on Sunday.
There will be two scrimmages — Aug. 14 and Aug. 21, the latter of which marks the return of Cowboy Night after last season’s early start forced it to be skipped.