During McNeese head football coach Sterlin Gilbert's weekly press conference on Monday afternoon, he was asked if last Saturday's win over Southeastern Louisiana was a signature victory for him and his team.
He stopped short of using that word, but acknowledged that it meant a lot to come out victorious.
"It was a big win," Gilbert said, also mentioning that Saturday was the best that he thought the Cowboys had played all season. "Just the type of win that it was, that we were able to have the success in all three phases and go down and do the things that we did. It was a big win, I don't know if I would tab it (a signature win), the wins we've had previous to that have been big too. Just continue to get the program at the standard that we want it, at the level that we want it."
When Gilbert mentions the type of win making it so big, there were multiple factors that contributed to it. An offense that had struggled to get going for most of the first half of the season finally did against SLU, going for a season-high 473 yards and 38 points. The defense, which had struggled giving up touchdowns late in the game, shut down the Lion offense after McNeese scored to go up 38-34 and got the Cowboys the ball back so they could run the clock out.
Multiple McNeese players were rewarded for their performances in the win over SLU. Nationally, quarterback Cody Orgeron was named the Southland Conference offensive player of the week by College Sports Madness, while defensive back Cory McCoy was named to honorable mention STATS FCS defensive player of the week. And punter/kicker Bailey Raborn – whom Gilbert confirmed would be the starting kicker for this week's game against Central Arkansas – was named Louisiana Sports Writers Association special teams player of the week, the second time this season he's earned that honor.
While Gilbert confirmed that Raborn would hold all three kicking roles (place kicker, punter, and kickoff specialist), he did also say that he and special teams coordinator Jeff Lepak discussed how to best keep Raborn's leg fresh while being on triple duty.
"I don't know if concern is the word," Gilbert said about dealing with Raborn. "I think you've just got to understand and manage the fact that that guy is doing all three of them. That's the biggest thing.
The difference between an 0-3 start in Southland Conference play and 1-2 means that championship and playoff aspirations are still there. But up next for the Cowboys is a UCA team that is ranked No. 16 in both the STATS FCS and FCS Coaches top 25 polls. The Bears have lost two games in a row, the most recent coming last Saturday as they went on the road to Nicholls and fell 34-14. Four of UCA's first five games were on the road, and two of their next three will be at home, starting with McNeese on Saturday. The Cowboys will be on the road for four of their final six games.
The all-time series between the two teams is tied at six games apiece.