Back to Baton Rouge, Cowboys play someone their own size

McNeese State’s panic button reads mildly concerned. That could change to all out worry tonight.

The Cowboys (0-2) look to avoid starting the season winless after three games for the fourth time in history when they travel to Baton Rouge for a second consecutive week.

The opponent is Southern University (1-1), coached by McNeese graduate Jason Rollins. Kickoff is set for 6:05 p.m. at Mumford Stadium.

The Jaguars gave Rollins his first career win last week with a 41-24 victory over Division II Miles College.

“We get a chance to go back to our state capital this week to play a very quality football team in Southern University,” said McNeese head coach Frank Wilson. “A proud traditional football program that has had a lot of success that has won a lot of SWAC championships and won a lot of Black college championships and certainly a formidable foe.”

The Cowboys lost 34-7 to LSU last week. They hope to build on that as they get ready to open Southland Conference play next week.

“It’s good for our team to get a little bit normalcy going to play at our level of competition,” said Mc-Neese quarterback Cody Orgeron. “The way we battled LSU gives us a lot of confidence going into the rest of the season. This week too, it’s a big we’ve got to get a win.”

The Cowboys came out of the LSU game relatively healthy while the Jaguars have some question marks. Offensive lineman Charley Zeno is the lone new Cowboy who will be out.

Jaguars top defender, linebacker Jordan Lewis, and quarterback Ladarius Skelton are questionable with day-to-day injuries, Rollins said.

“We anticipate they will both play,” Wilson said. “We have prepared for them and will be ready.”

Lewis is the reigning Buck Buchanan Award winner. If he plays it will be a showdown between him and McNeese defensive end Isaiah Chambers, who finished fourth last year for the award that goes to the top defender nationally on the Football Championship Subdivision level.

“I look forward to going against him,” Chambers said. “I want to be the best and last year he was the best. He got the award and I would like to have it. But we have to win the game first.”

McNeese, which will again be without speed receiver Cee Jay Powell, will hope to keep the pressure off Orgeron. He was sacked eight times by LSU and managed 91 yards of passing offense.

Look for speedy receiver Mason Piece to be a bigger part of the Cowboys offense.

“We need to do a better job getting Mason involved,” Wilson said. “He is a weapon we can use.”

Rollins said he knows the Cowboys well. He graduated from McNeese in 1996, playing two years after serving as the team’s manager. He also coached under Wilson with the two were at Texas-San Antonio.

“Frank Wilson will have his team ready for us,” Rollins said. “He always has his teams prepared. We expect this to be a tough fight.”

Skelton could be the key. He is the three-time MVP of the Bayou Classic and can both run and pass effectively. But the Jaguars have already used three quarterbacks this season.

“We will have to mix things up to keep them off balance,” Wilson said. “Our game plan doesn’t change with a different quarterback in there for them. They do a lot of the same things.”

The Cowboys are hoping a big game this week will propel them into conference play. But today, they are a team that simply needs a win.