Learning, and school hasn’t started

<p class="p1">The McNeese State football team’s fall camp is about to come to a close as the Cowboys begin classes on Monday.</p><p class="p1">With that will come afternoon practices during the hottest part of the day as well as some extra players who — for a multitude of reasons — can’t dress out until classes begin.</p><p class="p1">The Cowboys have two practices and a scrimmage before taking Sunday and Monday off and beginning afternoon practices, and we’ve learned a lot about them since camp began two weeks ago.</p><p class="p1">For starters, we’ve learned that the quarterback position seems to be in good hands, even with the inevitable departure of James Tabary next season.</p><p class="p1">Cody Orgeron has improved immensely from a year ago, and his quick feet make him a solid alternative that head coach Lance Guidry said he will use a couple times a game when he, offensive coordinator Landon Hoefer and quarterbacks coach Kerry Joseph decide Tabary needs a break or the Cowboys need a change of pace on offense.</p><p class="p1">And while Orgeron might be the clear No. 2 right now, he isn’t guaranteed the starting job next year either. True freshman Cam Smith looks more and more comfortable running the offense with each passing day, and big passes from him have become common during drills.</p><p class="p1">On top of that, Smith has a cannon for an arm, so a year from now expect us to be debating which one of these underclassmen will take the helm for the 2019-20 season.</p><p class="p1">But for now, Tabary will more than suffice as he remains McNeese’s best option at the position and he enters his final season with a chance to break a multitude of the program’s career passing records.</p><p class="p1">We’ve also learned that 18 offensive linemen is a whole heck of a lot better than seven.</p><p class="p1">After dealing with depth issues all last season and then suffering such low numbers during spring camp, the Cowboys couldn’t play a spring game, The offensive line finally has the numbers it needs to build a stable of guys it can rely on.</p><p class="p1">Offensive line coach Ben Norton will be the first person to tell anybody that his unit has a long way to go before it’s where he wants it to be, but the progress they’ve been able to make with numbers has improved drastically.</p><p class="p1">Despite its lack of depth in 2017, the offensive line become pretty adept at run blocking, allowing running backs David Hamm and Justin Pratt to produce significant numbers and regularly extend drives for the Cowboys last season.</p><p class="p1">If they can build on that success and protect Tabary in the pocket to give him the time he had as a sophomore, McNeese should be able to move the ball at a consistent and grueling pace for opposing defenses that will have to be on the field much longer than they anticipate.</p><p class="p1">Players at virtually every position have said the newly replenished offensive line has helped make them better as well. Running backs have more room, quarterbacks have more time to find receivers, defensive linemen have better competition and other defensive positions are getting more reps because the offensive line has enough players for multiple units.</p><p class="p1">Finally, we’ve learned that nobody’s starting job is safely in hand. It’s not just Cody Orgeron making a name for himself at his position. Redshirt freshman defensive end Camron Peterson can regularly be seen in a DWA (Defense With Attitude) jersey, and transfer junior safety Jovon Burris has all but secured significant minutes despite sharing a position with Trent Jackson, one of the Cowboys’ most intelligent defensive backs.</p><p class="p1">The good news is this edition of the McNeese football team has thus far remained unselfish. When teammates, even competing teammates, make big plays and earn more time they are celebrated rather than envied.</p><p class="p1">When Orgeron makes a big play, Tabary said that makes him want to put together a long drive. When Burris put on a DWA jersey leaving Jackson in his No. 9 jersey, Jackson said it’s because Burris is like a sponge when it comes to learning.</p><p class="p1">That might be this team’s best quality if it remains consistent. The starters alone aren’t going to beat teams like BYU or Central Arkansas. Those games in particular are going to take a full team effort at every position.</p><p class="p1">Sometimes culture beats athleticism, and culture is what the Cowboys have been trying to build since convening two weeks ago.</p><hr /><p class="p2"><strong>Tyler Nunez</strong> covers McNeese State athletics. Email him at tnunez@americanpress.com</p>””<p>Cowboys practice on the new turf in Cowboy Stadium Monday, August 6, 2018. (Tyler Nunez/American Press)</p>TylerNunez
https://www.americanpress.com/content/tncms/avatars/2/ae/90e/2ae90eb6-3a68-11e7-9e29-2b5322bd0ff3.8e5459d6b5c789cac9b55255a225f7a9.png

Crime

Five accused of attempted ATM burglaries

Local News

I-10 bridge task force chair: Wednesday crash highlights need for new bridge

Local News

National Seat Check Saturday at Southwest Beverage

Crime

State Police investigating officer-involved fatal shooting of inmate

Crime

LC man arrested after shooting at neighbor’s home

State News

Coroner identifies man killed by alligator

Crime

Sulphur High student arrested after threat made

Crime

Sheriff: Escapee shot after firing at officers

Local News

Governor optimistic about federal hurricane aid for SW La.

Local News

Eastbound lane of I-10 bridge remains closed after fiery crash

Jim Beam

Jim Beam column:Finally, a feel-good movie

Business News

$21M rice mill should be complete by next harvest

Crime

Three more linked to Oakdale bar shooting

Local News

State confirms seventh pediatric death from COVID-19 in fourth surge

Local Business News

Jeff Davis hoping to join program designed to attract business

Local Business News

EMS Academy looking for ‘right people in right spots’

Local Business News

Four state amendments await voters Nov. 13

Local Business News

George Swift column: Recovery, rebuilding after storms

Local Business News

Names in the News: People making a difference in the Lake Area

Local News

Breaux has honed some serious culinary skills since his Crock-pot days

Local News

Cemetery Association asking for help with hurricane-damaged graves

Crime Brief

Fort Polk soldiers charged in DeRidder drive-by shooting

Crime Brief

Lake Arthur man loses hunting privileges

Local News

Higgins says he will vote against raising debt limit