With just under three weeks to go until McNeese football kicks off its 2019 regular season at home against Southern on Aug. 31, the Cowboys still have a lot of work to do in order to lock down spots on both sides of the ball.
On Monday morning, the Cowboys had their first practice since Saturday's scrimmage, which was the first of fall camp. In the scrimmage, the offense had its moments, starting out well with a 70-yard touchdown pass from Cody Orgeron to Trevor Begue. But for the most part, the defense held the upper hand, holding the offense out of the end zone for the next 12 series after the initial touchdown; eight of those 12 drives resulted three-and-outs.
The defensive numbers looked dominating: seven sacks, 11 tackles for loss, nine pass breakups, two interceptions, a forced fumble, and a fumble recovery which resulted in a touchdown.
So while the defense seems to be just about ready to go, the offense still has some work to do before the Southern game.
"What you're looking for is continual corrections," Gilbert said. "And those are the things we talk about. Coaches correct things, players taking it on the field and correcting themselves."
It wasn't all doom and gloom for the McNeese offense in Saturday's scrimmage. Aside from Begue's long touchdown to start out, Orgeron threw touchdown passes of 37 yards to Davion Curtis and 28 yards to Draysean Hudson. Orgeron also added a 10-yard rushing touchdown.
Offensive coordinator/offensive line coach Matt Mattox spoke at media day on Sunday and said the time after the first scrimmage is so important because they're looking to fix issues as well as get closer to locking down depth chart spots for starters and backups.
"After the first scrimmage, this is a big learning time (for) us to make that next step," Mattox said. "This week, I think, is where guys have to step up in camp. It's time to go. We're going to see who can start separating themselves."
When Mattox specifically spoke about the offensive line, he said he felt good about the group up front and that a starting group of five is close to being formed. Sophomore center Cutter Leftwich, who started all 11 games for the Cowboys last year, has not been a full training camp participant to start as he recovers from a shoulder injury. The hope is for Leftwich to be ready and able to play against Southern.
Another positive the offense has is that Orgeron has taken reigns of the offense. He was named the starting quarterback in the summer and came into training camp not having to look over his shoulder with fear of being benched if he made a mistake. Orgeron said that it has changed his outlook and leadership knowing that.
"It's awesome," Orgeron said. "It's definitely changed my mentality from last year to this year. Put on my business cap when I walk in the field house every day, knowing my role is being a leader of this offense. Making sure everyone is pulling their part and bringing guys along with me so we can all come to the common goal to win."
Begue, who came in the same class as Orgeron, has worked with the quarterback since they both got to McNeese, from being backups to now, when they're both slated to start
The chemistry between Begue and Orgeron is definitely there and it Begue can notice the maturity coming from Orgeron.
"We've been building this chemistry for this moment right now," Begue said. "I feel like he knows what I'm going to do and I know what he's going to do, and he trusts me. That's all you can really ask for, that's what you want out of your quarterback."
The Cowboys will continue training camp with practice No. 10 on Tuesday morning starting at 9 a.m.