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McNeese State Cowboys defensive end Chris Livings (49) brings down Southeastern Louisiana Lions wide receiver Javon Conner (19) during the second half of their Southland Conference matchup at Cowboy Stadium in Moss Bluff, La., Saturday, Oct.5, 2019. (Rick Hickman/Lake Charles American Press)

Chris Livings, McNeese State senior defensive end, doesn't want to show his opponents anything but the utmost respect.

But the Cowboys defense, particularly the defensive line, has to be salivating at the prospects of a big pass rushing game this weekend at No. 16 Central Arkansas at 4 p.m. Saturday at Estes Stadium.

UCA has allowed 15 sacks in five games, making it statistically one of the worst in the Southland Conference and in the Football Championship Subdivision.

Meanwhile, McNeese has been middle of the pack when it comes to sacking the quarterback, racking up 13 in six games. But UCA could present the weakest offensive line that the Cowboys have seen in three conference games.

But don't tell that to Livings, who leads McNeese with three sacks.

"I feel like that's kind of our mind-set going into every game," Livings said about wanting to get into the backfield. "Just get pressure on the quarterback, not just to get sacks, but just to affect his throwing. Probably put our (defensive backs) in a better position to make great plays."

The Bears (3-2, 1-1 SLC) opened the season scoring 31 or more points twice in their first three games and averaging 30 points per game in that span. But in their last two games — road losses to Hawaii and Nicholls State — the Bears have averaged 15 points and 327.5 points per game. But UCA hopes that going home for the second time in six games will do them good.

Saturday's game will — at least in one aspect — be a battle of UCA's weakness against McNeese's strength. The Bears average 76.6 yards rushing per game, which ranks 116th out of 124 FCS schools. McNeese's run defense, on the other hand, has been stout since SLC play started, giving up an average of 90 yards rushing against conference opponents, ranking second behind first-place Sam Houston State.

Despite that, McNeese (3-3, 1-2) is weary of UCA running back Carlos Blackman, a 6-foot-1, 228-pound senior who the Cowboys' defenders compare to their own Elijah Mack because of his size and bruising running style.

"Their running back is a real good guy," Livings said of Blackman. "I remember going against him last year. He's a tough runner. Normally the first tackle has to be a great tackle to bring him down because he's a big guy."

When UCA does go to the air, expect quarterback Breylin Smith to look for sophomore wide receiver Lujuan Willingham, who has been one of the SLC's best. Willingham has caught 32 passes for 551 yards and seven touchdown receptions. His yardage ranks him ninth in the FCS while his touchdown receptions rank fifth.

McNeese's defense knows how much a good pass-catching threat can do damage, as Sam Houston State wide receiver Nathan Stewart and Southeastern Louisiana tight end Branson Schwebel have done damage to the Cowboys' pass defense in the past two games, combining for 14 receptions for 251 yards and two receiving touchdowns.

But McNeese safety Jovon Burriss said he believes their secondary will be up for the task this weekend.

"We love a challenge," Burriss said. "We feel like we can play with anybody. We hear they pass the ball, we get excited. Can't wait until Saturday and compete, see where we're at."

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