McNeese State starting quarterback Cody Stroud gets sacked by cornerback Aaron Sam and defensive back Shea Nutt during the Cowboys' scrimmage on Saturday. (Rick Hickman / Special to the American Press)
Last Modified: Saturday, August 18, 2012 6:19 PM
Badgers? We don't need no stinkin' Badgers.
That seemed to be the message sent by the McNeese State defense during Saturday morning's scrimmage at Cowboy Stadium.
With talk of Tyrann "Honey Badger" Mathieu's potential arrival now subsided, the Cowboy D showed it is still capable of making big plays this season in a dominating effort. The No. 3 defense allowed the only touchdown of the 75-play scrimmage, which was cut 25 plays short due to an oncoming thunderstorm.
"Our defense was a lot faster today," said coach Matt Viator. "Defensively the thing we did a really good job of is keeping the offense in bad down-and-distance situations. They did a really good job on first down keeping the offense behind the chains."
Hard hits were a staple of this one, though it included a scary moment near the end when Devionte Edmonson hit the ground head-first after getting plastered by Terence Cahee. Players immediately signaled for the training staff as Edmonson lay on the turf, and Cahee was visibly upset while Edmonson was attended to.
Fortunately, Edmonson was helped to his feet and walked off the field on his own power, though he was carted away at the end of the scrimmage.
Cahee's hit wasn't the only pad-popper. He also laid into Javaris Murray after Murray juked out Malcolm Bronson on a run play. And safety Ford Smesny appeared to knock the wind out of Diontae Spencer with a big hit over the middle.
Gabe Hamner and Steele Merritt picked off passes by Tyler Bolfing and Garett McCain. Hamner, a redshirt freshman cornerback mostly playing with the third team, also knocked down a pair of passes.
"I knew I had to play good in order to play when Saturday comes," Hamner said. "I didn't have it in my mind while I was out there, but I did when I prepared to get it done. I feel a lot better than last year."
The defense had six sacks, half of which came with the first unit in the game. Defensive end Everett Ellefsen had a pair coming in from the blind side, and Smesny added one on a blitz.
"Offensively we didn't move it very well at all," Viator said. "We didn't throw it well. We didn't catch it well. We ran it pretty good, but we didn't execute the way we have to execute."
The most offensive movement came from the newest addition to the roster.
Though he only knows a handful of plays right now, Tulane transfer Leon Blouin IV scratched together an effective outing playing with the third team. Blouin rushed for a team-high 49 yards on seven carries, scoring the only touchdown on a 5-yard scramble. He was 2 of 4 for 17 yards passing.
"While he was in, he did good," Viator said. "We asked him what plays he was comfortable running just because we wanted to get him out there and competing with the guys. We wanted him to feel a part of this team, which he is now. You can see by what he picked what kind of plays he likes. That's his style. He's a runner and a thrower."
NOTE: Viator wished Mathieu the best in his fight to overcome addiction. Mathieu visited McNeese last Friday after getting kicked off LSU's team, but decided to check into rehab this week and stay there for the time being. "On behalf of our coaches and players, we certainly wish Tyrann the best," Viator said. "He's a nice young man. Hopefully he gets his life where he wants to and continues to further his career, because we certainly enjoyed our visit with him."