Cowboys press reset button — again

Published 4:54 pm Monday, October 30, 2023

As facts continue to trickle out concerning the surroundings about McNeese State’s lost Homecoming, the Cowboys began to move on Monday.

They turned their attention to Southeastern, another state foe who like the Pokes is struggling this season.

If McNeese is playing below expectations they only need to look across the line of scrimmage this Saturday to find a team in the same boat.

Email newsletter signup

“Their season hasn’t gone their way either,” McNeese head coach Gary Goff said. “They have more talent than their record.”

While the Cowboys are in a rebuild the Lions were expected to be a playoff and Southland Conference title contender. They entered the season picked to win the league by most and were ranked in all national polls.

“It is bizarre,” Goff said of Southeastern’s struggle. “It really is when you watch them. They have talent.  They really got some talent on their roster.”

Both teams enter Saturday’s game in Hammond with 1-7, 1-3 records. Both have also had plenty of time to get healthy. The Lions are coming off their scheduled bye week while McNeese got time off when Northwestern State canceled last weekend’s game, along with the rest of their season.

Now the Pokes, who will have played just one game in 21 days come Saturday afternoon. They were rewarded with a forfeit win last week, the 520th and possibly strangest victory in program history. But that is not what the Cowboys wanted and needed.

“It is very unfortunate,” said Goff. “We want to play these games. It is a shame we didn’t get to play. But what happened is a real tragedy.”

Northwestern State is suffering through the shooting death of defensive back Ronnie Caldwell Jr, but the Lions did play and lose to Southeastern after the incident and before canceling the season.

They lost at home to Southeastern.

“I can’t imagine what they are going through,” said Goff. “I don’t know if there is a manual on who to take care of a situation like that.”

Now the Cowboys must refocus again.

“It’s different, your bye week you are prepared for it,” said Goff. “Mentally we were all kind of shocked last week when the game was cancelled. I expect the guys are going to come out and be excited to play.

“We have to kind of regroup a little bit”

 With four games left, McNeese was planning on playing more and more young players. That won’t change now that only three games remaining.

“We are pretty much going into this game with the same mindset as last week,” said Goff.

That means Goff will once again plan on getting true freshman quarterback Kamden Sixkiller into the game. Sixkiller has yet to play this year but has been trending upward during practices.

“He is big and strong and we want to see what he can do,” said Goff.

Ryan Roberts will still get the start but Goff added that Sixkiller could enter the game as the No. 2 QB.

That could leave Nate Glantz the odd man out. Two games ago Glantz was the starter but has struggled with turnovers of late.

“I have talked to Nate about all this,” said Goff. “He wants to be the guy, he wants to be out there. But he has had a good attitude.”

The Lions have won four straight over McNeese, but all have been close. Southeastern has only outscored the Pokes by 12 points during those games, including winning last fall by one, 28-27.

If the Cowboys are to break the streak, the Cowboys must slow down the Southeastern run game, something they have had trouble doing this season. McNeese allows an average of 235 yards on the ground a game, 40 yards more than any other team in the Southland.

“Stopping the run has to be a concern for us all year,” said Goff. “By no means have we mastered that.”

For now, just getting back on the field is a step back to normalcy for McNeese.