In McNeese’s last win over a Top 25 opponent, punter Jean Breaux played a key, if underappreciated, role in the Cowboys’ 31-23 win over Sam Houston State.
Sam Houston’s Torrance Williams entered the game as the No. 2 punt returner in the country, but only managed one return for 3 yards to go along with a flurry of fair catches on Breaux’s kicks.
“There’s no question (he’s been a big factor),” Cowboys head coach Matt Viator said of Breaux. “Last week he had six touchbacks out of 10 kickoffs, and three of the others were between the numbers and the sideline. He has had a good season, as has (placekicker) Ryan Rome. And we’ll definitely need it this week.”
Breaux’s leg will be a factor again on Saturday, though this time it will be on kickoffs.
Lions return man Xavier Roberson is one of the most dangerous in the country, having returned two kickoffs for touchdowns.
“Obviously coach doesn’t want to kick it to him, but if I’m kicking it good he isn’t going to hesitate to tell me to kick it out of the end zone,” Breaux said. “He’s a really good player. I’m confident enough that if we limited Sam Houston’s punt returner, we can do the same with a kick returner.”
Fortunately for the Cowboys, Breaux is about as dangerous as one can be on the football field at 5-foot-10 and 150 pounds. He has a league-leading 26 touchbacks.
“During the offseason I got stronger,” Breaux said. “Working out, I don’t squat. I leg press. I’m not the biggest kicker, so my thing is leg speed. It’s leg speed and all technique and form for me. I’ve always had the leg speed, but I really worked on my form and my steps in the offseason.”
• GOING INSIDE: Thursday’s severe weather forced McNeese to take its practice indoors.
The offense worked against the scout-team defense in the university recreation center, while the defense worked against the scout-team offense inside of Memorial Gym.
Viator said he does not expect the unusual conditions to affect McNeese’s preparation, noting that the only change will come from practicing special teams on Friday instead of Thursday.
“It helps that it was Thursday,” Viator said. “We’ll just add some special teams things tomorrow. It was fine.”
• LOCAL FLAVOR: As always, Southeastern Louisiana has some Southwest Louisiana flavor on its roster.
Junior safety Tyler Stoddard (Westlake High) and senior offensive lineman Marshall Paris (Sam Houston High) are the Lion locals.
• TRANSFER U: SLU’s roster features seven Football Bowl Subdivision and 23 junior college transfers.
• FRESHMAN LEAVES: Viator said freshman offensive lineman Adam Ziepke left school to return home this week. Viator said there is a possibility the Terrebonne Parish native could re-enroll in January.