Last Modified: Wednesday, August 01, 2012 8:40 PM
McNeese State’s football season opened with the start of training camp on Wednesday, but it was apparent from the Cowboys’ energy and execution that this wasn’t the real Day 1.
Preparation has been under way all summer with players using the offseason strength and conditioning program to their benefit.
“My personal experience, this is the best offseason we’ve had since I’ve been here in ’09,” said quarterback Cody Stroud. “I think that’ll pay dividends this season. Guys came in this spring and summer working their tails off, and that’s all you can ask for to get ready for this time of year.”
After playing the final month of last season without a postseason berth at stake, the Cowboys head into this camp determined to get back to the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs.
“We haven’t made the playoffs in two years or won a conference championship in two years. That’s not something we’re proud of,” Stroud said. “We’re used to being on top in the conference. Our goal is to get back there this season.
“We thought it was a fluke the first year, but last year we didn’t do the small things to help in key situations. That’s what we need to get better at this year.”
Overall, head coach Matt Viator said he felt things got off to a promising start — though in terms of energy that is to be expected at the start of camp.
“You have to do a great job of being in shape to come out here for a two-hour practice when the heat index is over 100,” Viator said. “I thought the kids did a pretty good job of that. We moved around pretty good. But as camp goes on that will get a little harder as you start to get sore.”
Senior safety Malcolm Bronson said he couldn’t wait to get back onto the field for the first time since the spring after a walk-through in the morning.
“This morning, being around everybody and then having a little break, that whole break I was just anxious to get out here,” Bronson said. “To smell the grass, put the helmet back on. It’s been a minute since you’ve gotten that feeling in you. It feels good.”
For some, the wait has been even longer.
Senior offensive lineman Miguel Gauthreaux was lost for the season to a major knee injury last training camp, then had to wait until this year’s spring practices were over to receive clearance from the NCAA to extend his career and play this season.
Because he wasn’t exactly in prime football condition at the time he was reinstated, he said it took heavy-duty rehabbing with team head trainder Jim Murphy and trainer J.D. Boudreaux to get ready for his return.
“I hit it pretty hard,” Gauthreaux said. “Doc and J.D. put me through the wringer.”