Lamar game signals end of season, Cowboys try to avoid record 10th loss

Published 8:00 am Saturday, November 18, 2023

For the final game of the college football season, the Cowboys will huddle up on offense and have their quarterbacks wear wristbands to help signal in plays as they try to avoid the first 10-loss season in program history.

This after they believe at least some of their opponents may have been tipped off to their play calling.

McNeese State head coach Gary Goff said players were coming off the field saying the opponents not only knew if it was a run or pass called but the names of the plays.

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“We can’t really prove anything but we have to take precautions,” Goff said. “We don’t really huddle because we like to go fast. This will slow the tempo down.”

It’s the latest layer to perhaps the strangest and worst season in Cowboys history as McNeese gets set for today’s battle with rival Lamar.

While the Cowboys look to avoid a winless season on the field for the first time in program history, a victory would give Lamar its first winning season since 2018.

“You want to end the season on a good note,” Goff said. “We are not just going through the motions. You want to get the win and have some good feelings moving forward.”

The Cowboys’ (1-9, 1-5 Southland Conference) lone victory was by forfeit.

As for the Cardinals (5-5, 4-2), they were playing for a share of the SLC title last week but lost. Now the goal is to finish with a winning record.

“I’m not worried about what has happened in the past,” Lamar head coach Pete Rossomando said. “To me, it is about going 1-0 this week.”

Both coaches realize this is a rivalry game as the teams play for The Battle for the Border trophy.

“In any rivalry game you throw the records out the window,” Rossomando said. “It is about who plays better on that day.”

Goff said he hopes the rivalry gets his team a reason to play its best.

“You want to get up for a rivalry game,” Goff said. “It means a lot to us and our fans.”

In order to pull off the upset, McNeese will have to a least slow down the Lamar running game. That has been a problem for the Cowboys all season.

The Cowboys allow a league-worst 248.5 yards a game on the ground. Led by Khalan Griffin, the Cards average 131 yards rushing.

Griffin has rushed for 700 yards and had 83 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries last year against the Cowboys. While McNeese won 24-20, Lamar ran for 219 yards against them.

“We start each week by saying we have to stop the run,” Goff said. “It has been a problem for us. We have tried about everything.”

The Cowboys might be able to run the ball as well, for the Cardinals give up 191 yards on the ground themselves. That could mean a big game for redshirt freshman Joshon Barbie, who has come on strong.

Barbie, who was rewarded with a scholarship last week, has run for 283 yards and three scores over the last four games.

McNeese will also get another long look at true freshman quarterback Kam Sixkiller. In his first college start last week Sixkiller threw for 249 yards and a touchdown.

“I’m excited to see how he does again this week,” Goff said of the quarterback. “He had some good and some bad last week, but he looks like the guy moving forward.”

Linebacker Micah Davey has been the guy all year for the defense. He leads the country in solo tackles on the Football Championship Subdivision level at 8.4 a game. He is second in total tackles at just over 14, which leads the league.

If the Cowboys are to break their on-field losing skid, they will need another big game from Davey, who made 20 tackles last week against Houston Christian.

As for the wristbands, well, you just never know who’s watching these days.