Oh my Ward: Cowboys look for way to stop UIW quarterback

In the spring, Cameron Ward held his coming out party in Cowboy Stadium.

Using the long ball, he threw over a struggling McNeese State defense and stunned the Cowboys faithful.

A month ago in San Antonio, the Incarnate Word freshman quarterback proved he was no fluke, this time using the short game to topple McNeese 31-0.

Two games, two different types of attack, one constant: Ward.

“He is our toughest matchup,” said McNeese State head coach Frank Wilson. “He is a very good football player. He takes what you give him. He’s tough to stop.”

Ward as been impossible for the Cowboys to even slow down.

The Jerry Rice Award winner as the best freshman in the Football Championship Subdivision has been the key to two Cardinals victories in the last eight months against McNeese, including a 48-20 thumping on Feb. 27 in Lake Charles.

In those two games Ward has thrown for 658 yards and six touchdowns without an interception. While he has been sacked six times by McNeese defenders — Mason Kinsey twice — he has also connected on 63 percent of his passes (53 of 84).

He comes back to town for a third meeting this calendar year at noon Saturday.

“We have to get pressure on him,” Kinsey said. “We have to try and make him uncomfortable. We have to get hits.”

That has not been easy. At 6-foot-2 and 220 pounds, Ward is a load. While he doesn’t always look to run he can move in the pocket and makes it tough on defenders who have to decide whether to attack him or stay with their man.

“While he will run he looks to pass more out of it,” Wilson said. “That makes it very difficult to defend him. He can frustrate a defense.

“He has a very quick release so he is hard to get to. But he really is willing to take what is open and let his receivers make the plays.”

In other words, Ward is adept at controlling the tempo like a point guard in basketball. He distributes the ball to his playmakers in space. It’s why the Cardinals, who’ve won their last five games, find themselves ranked 16th in the country and tied with Southeastern Louisiana atop the Southland Conference standings at 5-1, 3-0.

The Cowboys (2-4, 1-2) have tried just about everything to stop the UIW quarterback over the 120 minutes they’ve played him, including using a spy. It hasn’t worked.

“We have tried, we have tried,” Wilson said. “We will try some more things this week.”

Six sacks isn’t bad, and in the last game the Cowboys got their hands on a couple of footballs but failed to come up with any turnovers. They even batted a ball in the air at the line of scrimmage only to see that end in an Incarnate Word catch and first down.

Now they are looking forward to getting after Ward again.

“I can’t wait to get my hat on him,” said defensive tackle Joey McNeely. “I’ll leave it at that.”

Getting hits on Ward and making him uncomfortable in the pocket will go a long way in slowing down the Cardinals’ high-powered offense, which is averaging 38.33 points per game.

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