By Brandon Comeaux
When a team finishes a season with nine wins, the players usually have the opportunity to end it with a postseason appearance. That wasn’t the case for the 2017 players of the McNeese Cowboys. A team that achieved six of nine wins in the double digits ended up falling short of the postseason.
The two road losses to Southland Conference powers, Central Arkansas and Nicholls, as well as a weak strength of schedule is what held the Cowboys from being chosen by the selection committee to be in the playoffs. Will 2018 be the year that the Cowboys make it back to postseason?
Redeeming Two Losses
Central Arkansas – Over the last two seasons, the team has really taken it to McNeese, winning by 35-0 and 47-17 scores. Central Arkansas went undefeated in SLC play in 2018, but with a new head coach and many new faces in the starting lineup, the Cowboys could celebrate homecoming with a rude welcome of UCA.
Nicholls – The heartbreaking loss to the Colonels last year was ultimately what kept the Cowboys out of the playoffs. Lorran Fonseca’s last-second field goal helped Nicholls squeak out an early-season victory against the Cowboys.
That specific game haunts McNeese, as Nicholls received the invite to the playoffs instead. Following the first two games on the road, the Cowboys will host the Colonels at home and will look to atone for last season’s disappointment.
It’s imperative that the Cowboys stay focused each and every week, not allowing any of the opponents it handily beat last season to catch them off guard in 2018.
Non-conference Game to Watch
On Sept. 22, the Cowboys travel to Provo, Utah, to take on the BYU Cougars, a program trying to rebound from an uncharacteristic losing season. With the Cowboys returning several players from last season, and BYU looking to find its identity again, McNeese has an opportunity to pull an upset over a storied program.
At the Helm
Coach Lance Guidry – The third year head coach has led McNeese to winning seasons in both years at the helm. The defensive-minded coach Guidry has led the Cowboys into one of the better defensive squad in FCS.
Offense and Defense
Quarterback, James Tabary, leads the Cowboys offense that returns two first Team All-Conference players – Tight End Lawayne Ross and Running Back David Hamm. Defensive back B.J. Blunt, linebacker Tre Porter and defensive lineman Micah Udeh highlight a tough defense.
Kicker Bailey Raborn returns after missing only one field goal last season.
Last Playoff Trip
It’s been three years since McNeese suffered a second round playoff home loss to the fellow SLC member Sam Houston State, a team they had beaten one month earlier, to help ensure an undefeated regular season. Interestingly, SHSU is not on the 2018 schedule.
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