McNeese offense takes turn in spotlight

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<p class="indent">In what seemed like a reversal of roles from the first week of the season, the McNeese State offense carried the Cowboys to a 51-33 victory against Houston Baptist on Saturday as the defense struggled to put the game away.

<p class="indent">Every time it seemed the Cowboys were about to put the Huskies out of reach, HBU quarterback Bailey Zappe or running back Deshawn Merriweather made a big play that kept them in the game.

{{tncms-inline account="TylerAmPress" html="&amp;lt;blockquote class=&amp;quot;twitter-tweet&amp;quot;&amp;gt;&amp;lt;p lang=&amp;quot;en&amp;quot; dir=&amp;quot;ltr&amp;quot;&amp;gt;END 1Q | &amp;lt;a href=&amp;quot;https://twitter.com/hashtag/McNeese?src=hash&amp;amp;amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw&amp;quot;&amp;gt;#McNeese&amp;lt;/a&amp;gt; 21, HBU 7. Cowboys largely dominant, but a big play allowed the Huskies to get on the board.&amp;lt;/p&amp;gt;&amp;amp;mdash; Tyler Nunez (@TylerAmPress) &amp;lt;a href=&amp;quot;https://twitter.com/TylerAmPress/status/1038575888777048066?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw&amp;quot;&amp;gt;September 8, 2018&amp;lt;/a&amp;gt;&amp;lt;/blockquote&amp;gt;" id="1038575888777048066" type="twitter"}}

<p class="indent">All five of HBU’s scoring drives lasted less than three minutes with three of those drives lasting less than two minutes as the Cowboys struggled to adjust to the hurry-up offense the Huskies presented as the game progressed.

<p class="indent">In week one, it was the offense that seemingly took the foot off the gas and started playing conservatively as they ran the ball straight into a defense that stacked eight men in the box.

<p class="indent">This weekend, the defense failed to play for all four quarters, though it’s hard to put fault on any one player.

<p class="indent">Cody Roscoe added two more sacks to his season total, bringing him to 4.5 on the year, Darion Dunn grabbed two interceptions (although he did cough the first one up to give the ball right back to HBU) and the Cowboys as a defense forced five turnovers on the game.

<p class="indent">So what went wrong?

<p class="indent">The trouble started after the Cowboys went up 21-0 in the first quarter. McNeese’s defense had stopped the Huskies on four drives to that point, and the game looked to be getting out of hand from the outset.

<p class="indent">But instead of keeping the starting defense out there, head coach and defensive coordinator Lance Guidry opted to start putting in players like redshirt freshman Andre Sam (who switched from reciever to safety this season) and true freshman John Blunt on the field for their first action of the season.

<p class="indent">As a result, holes began opening up on defense that HBU previously couldn’t take advantage of, and they began abusing them with deep passes, a known weakness of the Cowboys defense over the past two seasons.

<p class="indent">The game was never truly in danger as the Huskies never cut their deficit to more than 14 points. But for the second straight week, the Cowboys entered the fourth quarter with a 17-point lead, which they learned against Northern Colorado could disappear in a quick fashion if business isn’t taken care of.

<p class="indent">It’s tough to criticize a team for never really being at risk of losing, but HBU shouldn’t have even had an opportunity to come back in that game. It should have been over at halftime based on the clear and present talent disparity between the two teams.

<p class="indent">There’s absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to get young players in the game. Game experience is invaluable, and Guidry knows he’s going to need athletes like Sam and Blunt to step up and play one day. The more experience they have when that time comes, the better.

<p class="indent">But 10 minutes into the first quarter seems a bit early for that, especially when you have an opportunity to put the game away.

<p class="indent">The Cowboys had a lot to celebrate after what was, in fact, a pretty dominant win against Houston Baptist.

<p class="indent">McNeese quarterback James Tabary won a slew of offensive player of the week awards after breaking the school record for touchdowns

(4) and passing yards (355) in the first half, Dunn’s pair of interceptions earned him the SLC’s defensive player of the week award and Parker Orgeron’s 59-yard punt return had him honored as the league’s special teams player of the week.

{{tncms-inline account="TylerAmPress" html="&amp;lt;blockquote class=&amp;quot;twitter-tweet&amp;quot;&amp;gt;&amp;lt;p lang=&amp;quot;en&amp;quot; dir=&amp;quot;ltr&amp;quot;&amp;gt;TOUCHDOWN | &amp;lt;a href=&amp;quot;https://twitter.com/hashtag/McNeese?src=hash&amp;amp;amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw&amp;quot;&amp;gt;#McNeese&amp;lt;/a&amp;gt; 51, HBU 27. Parker Orgeron returns a punt 59 yards for a touchdown that helps put a comeback out of reach for HBU&amp;lt;/p&amp;gt;&amp;amp;mdash; Tyler Nunez (@TylerAmPress) &amp;lt;a href=&amp;quot;https://twitter.com/TylerAmPress/status/1038608218602254337?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw&amp;quot;&amp;gt;September 9, 2018&amp;lt;/a&amp;gt;&amp;lt;/blockquote&amp;gt;" id="1038608218602254337" type="twitter"}}

<div class="Content"><p class="indent">But the Cowboys have had this upcoming Saturday’s matchup against Nicholls State circled on their mental calendars for more than a year now.

<p class="indent">If they’re fortunate enough to get off to another hot start and lead by two more touchdowns, a Tim Rebowe-coached Nicholls team isn’t a unit anybody wants hanging around.

<p class="indent">McNeese has now had two weeks to figure things out before playing this long-awaited home opener, and the Colonels are entering Cowboy Stadium with more excitement and a better quarterback in Chase Fourcade than they ever have before. McNeese is going to need a complete game on Saturday, this time from both sides of the ball.

</div><div class="Supplementary"> </div>

Nicholls St. at McNeese 6 p.m. Saturday, CST

””McNeese offense header

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