Coaches know the drill

Ready to face firing squad of questions

<div class="article_viewer_container"><div class="this_article"><div id="articleViewerPopup_articleViewer" class="article_viewer ArticleViewer text use-3d ltr" data-olive-control="ArticleViewer"><div class="animation-wrapper"><div class="align-wrapper offset-wrapper"><div class="zoom-wrapper"><div class="article" lang="en" xml_lang="en" data-view-mode="text"><div class="Content"><p class="indent">More than seven months after Sam Houston State served as the Southland Conference representative in the Football Championship Subdivision playoff bracket, the league will dip its toe into the 2018 season today.</p><p class="indent">The series of news conferences will begin at 9 a.m. with SLC Commissioner Tom Burnett stepping up to the podium before the procession of coaches from all 11 teams gather in the Hilton Houston Post Oak by the Galleria for the annual SLC Media Day.</p><p class="indent">McNeese head coach Lance Guidry will take center stage at 2:15 p.m. while tight end Lewayne Ross and linebacker BJ Blunt sit off to the side waiting to answer questions from ESPN3 reporters covering the event for the online television outlet that will broadcast the day’s proceedings.</p><p class="indent">Guidry said he has a pretty good idea of what he’ll be asked.</p><p class="indent">“Everybody I’ve talked to has asked the same thing: ‘How do you feel about being 9-2 last year and not being in the playoffs,’” Guidry said. “It’s kind of like an old record being played.”</p><p class="indent">But for Guidry, “It is what it is.” That was 2017, and this is 2018. And while last season’s result has put a definite chip on his shoulder — he almost detests the “NCAA Statistical Champion” plaque his defense earned for allowing 54.5 rushing yards per game last season displayed in the back of his office — it’s clear he doesn’t want to dwell too much on the past.</p><p class="indent">The event will also serve as the official announcement of preseason polls, which will allow Guidry to see what coaches and athletic directors in the conference think about his team’s prospects.</p><p class="indent">He regularly makes it clear preseason polls and teams don’t matter much, but he admits he’s at least a little curious to see where his team stands in the minds of his colleagues.</p><p class="indent">“You get all kinds of questions, and sometimes it’s the same question over and over,” Guidry said. “That’s just a part of it. It’s good to see where we’re going to be ranked.”</p><p class="indent">Aside from questioning him about his team’s past, Guidry is likely going to have to answer questions about his personnel. While the defense looks solid based on name recognition, its positions are largely filled with young talent.</p><p class="indent">Guidry said his “Defense With Attitude’s” primary focus will continue to be the run-stop, and he will be forced to replace key components of last year’s front seven, including linebacker Ashari Goins and defensive linemen Jammerio Gross-Whitaker, Antonio McGhee and Jalen Bowers.</p><p class="indent">“Defense is going to be our bigger challenge for coaches,” said Guidry, who doubles as defensive coordinator. “We have some inexperienced guys, but we have some more talented guys, which is a good thing.”</p><p class="indent">In addition, the offensive line will continue to be a prevalent question mark through the early part of the season. The unit lacked depth last season, and despite picking up some pieces in the offseason, they also lost Andy Dodd, Chris Aye and Joe Jenkins.</p><p class="indent">While the Cowboys struggled to pass block, offensive line coach Ben Norton got the unit to run block as the season progressed, allowing the Cowboys to move the ball effectively against most opponents.</p><p class="indent">But Guidry remains confident and excited about his team’s chances to make a splash this season.</p><p class="indent">“It’s going to be exciting,” he said. “Each team is a different team each and every year. We have a good team nucleus, which I really like. … I think we’ll have a good football team this year.”</p></div></div></div></div></div></div></div><div class="odn-icon close_button"> </div></div><div class="status_bar articleView"> </div>””<div class="embed Picture" data-img-width="1125" data-img-height="769"><div class="Caption"><p>Cowboys former head coach, Lance Guidry</p></div></div>Kirk Meche / Special to the American Press

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