Team Preview: McNeese State

We take a closer look at the McNeese State Cowboys, who come to the Zou on Saturday night

On Saturday evening (6:00 P.M., PPV TV) at Faurot Field, the Cowboys of McNeese State (1-0) will take on the Missouri Tigers (1-0). McNeese State, which is located in Lake Charles, LA, opened the 2010 season last Saturday with a 30-27 win over Lammar.

McNeese State head football coach Matt Viator addressed members of the news media at his weekly press conference on Tuesday. He talked about Saturday's upcoming game at Missouri.

"Missouri will be a tough challenge," said Viator. "Anytime you go and play in front of 74,000 people in that kind of atmosphere, it's always a challenge. They have 17 starters back and run a spread offense that we normally don't see. Blaine Gabbert is a really good quarterback............... He's scary."

McNeeese State has been the champion of the Southland Conference in 3 of the last 4 years, and held Lamar to 10 yards rushing for the game, an average of 0.5 yards/carry. McNeese State plays a 4-2-5 alignment, and defense is their calling card, the foundation of their program. Almost every defensive starter for McNeese is a pre-season all-conference, returning all-conference, or pre-season All-American. They have pretty decent size up front, and are very fast in the secondary. They came up with 2 INTs against Lamar, and also forced a pair of fumbles.

McNeese State posted 477 yards of total offense against Lamar, including 185 yards on the ground. Marcus Wiltz averaged nearly 6 yards/carry, with 160 yards rushing on 26 attempts, and he's not even the starter! QB Jacob Bower completed nearly 60% of his pass attempts, for 292 yards and 2 TDs against Lamar, and ran for another TD. Bower is a graduate student at McNeese State, after transferring from Tulsa.

Bower has a host of receivers, including pre-season all-conference selections, WR Chris Royal, and TE Corday Clark. WR Bernardo Henry got off to a good start against Lamar, with a 48 yard TD reception. Nine different Cowboys caught a pass in the opener."On their defense, No. 85 (Aldon Smith) is as good as any we've played against since I've been here," said Viator. "He was a national player of the week this past week with something like 13 tackles. I'm not sure what we're going to do with him. I also like No. 3 (Jacquies Smith). They are huge up front and hopefully we can stay out of third and long situations."

McNeese State, an FCS play-off participant in 3 of the past 4 seasons, has scheduled aggressively this year, as they will also play LSU next month. They're coming to Columbia with an upset in mind. McNeese State is a team that is used to winning, and they won't back down from Missouri.

"I know that its going to be a tough challenge," said Viator. "Our players are excited. Anytime you get the opportunity to play in that type of environment on the road, it's exciting."

Comparative Statistics (NCAA Ranking in Brackets)

MIZZOU___________________ McNEESE ST.

369.00 [72nd]___ Total Offense___ 495.00 [14th

98.00 [86th]____Rushing Offense__ 207.00 [25th]

0____________TDs Rushing___________ 1

281.00 [27th]___Passing Offense__ 288.00 [11th)

133.73 [56th]__ Passing Efficiency__ 157.43 [19th

2____________TDs Passing____________ 2

23.00 [76th]____Scoring Offense____ 30.00 [29th]

281.00 [44th]___ Total Defense___ 446.00 [68th]

200.00 [85th]__ Rushing Defense____20.00 [3rd]

0_________ TDs Allowed Rushing_________ 0

81.00 [9th]_____Passing Defense__ 426.00 [97th]

56.94 [7th]____ Pass Effic. Defense__ 156.35 [71st]

1_________ TDs Allowed Passing_________ 313.00 [39th]____Scoring Defense__ 27.00 [T-43rd]

+3.00 [3rd]___ Turnover Margin__–1.00 [T-64th] 1 / 1________ Fumbles/Lost________ 5 / 3

0_________ Interceptions Thrown_________ 0

3_________ Interceptions Gained_________ 2

20.00 [59th]___Kickoff Return Avg.__ 21.40 [40th]

6.67 [57th]____ Punt Return Avg.____40.00 [4th]

38.20 [45th]___ Net Punting Avg.__ 35.75 [T-41st]

2.00 [T-36th]______Sacks By_____1.00 [T-47th]

1.00 [T-24th]____ Sacks Allowed____2.00 [T-43rd]

30:01 [56th]___ Avg. Time of Poss.___ 34:18 [23rd]

50.0% [30th]___3rd Down Conv._ 37.5% [T-47th]

0.0% [n/a]_____4th Down Conv.__100.0% [T-1st]

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