Last Modified: Friday, September 07, 2012 7:44 PM
Looking as good as new after an intensive $50,000 summer cleaning project.
“I’m really excited about the stadium,” said McNeese State head coach Matt Viator. “I think the biggest job was cleaning underneath the stadium. They’ve got all new signs. We re-did the field and got it looking right. This is the best I can ever remember this place looking.”
Also looking pretty good after a 27-21 win over Bowl Subdivision opponent Middle Tennessee State.
Division II McMurry visits Cowboy Stadium for McNeese’s home opener coming off the heels of a 51-0 loss to crosstown D-II foe Abilene Christian. The War Hawks are in their first season of D-II play after moving up from Division III, meaning their freshman class is the first on scholarship.
“We’ve got about 12 seniors. We played 27 freshmen in that game,” said McMurry coach Hal Mumme. “That’s our first scholarship class. Now we’re playing all these schools with scholarships. The best players on field are the young guys and we’ve got some growth to do.”
Mumme, the former head coach at Kentucky, Southeastern Louisiana and New Mexico State, still adheres to his pass first, second and third philosophy. Despite getting shut out last week, McMurry did roll up 300 yards of offense.
He also has not shed his gambler’s mentality, going for it on 11 fourth downs last week as the War Hawks tried to rally.
“Last year we went for it on fourth down more than we punted but led the nation in net punting,” Mumme said.
Members of the McNeese defense welcome Mumme’s approach.
“It works where they’re at, but we’re going to be prepared for it,” said senior linebacker Joe Narcisse. “It’ll be a heartbreaker for them if they’re going to go for it on fourth-and-37 like we’ve seen on film.”
The Cowboys won’t just have their ears pinned back on fourth down. McMurry quarterback Jake Mullin was sacked nine times last week, six by the same player.
“We kind of lulled ourself into a false sense of security,” Mumme said. “We’ve had some games where we didn’t score at first and then kind of explode. We moved the ball so well that we didn’t look as hard as we should at the personnel matchups on the O-line.”
Defensively, McMurry also likes to take its chances. Joe Lee Dunn, the former defensive coordinator at Ole Miss, Mississippi State and Memphis, calls the plays for McMurry’s blitz-happy 3-3-5 attack.
“I think this week is gonna be the week that I get tested a pretty good amount from what I put in in the offseason,” said McNeese quarterback Cody Stroud. “My offseason goal was to get (the ball) out quicker to my guys. This week is going to be a measure of that.”
Though it appears to be a heavy mismatch today, McMurry is 2-0 all-time against McNeese. However, the programs haven’t met since a 21-0 McMurry win in 1958.
NOTES: Running backs Champlain Babin and Javaris Murray returned to practice this week after suffering minor injuries against Middle Tennessee State. Viator said their playing time will be dictated largely by how they feel at game time. Kelvin Bennett, Terrell Alfred and Dillon Berlin will also dress at running back behind Marcus Wiltz.