by Bryan Follins
2015 Overall McNeese State Record:
Starters returning: Offense (9), Defense (7)
Offensive set: Multiple, pro style
Defensive set: 4-2-5
McNeese State will march into Tiger Stadium with a team which knows how to score. One year ago the Cowboys traveled to Lincoln, Nebraska and nearly upset the Nebraska Cornhuskers. It would have been the biggest football upset in school history, not to mention one of the biggest shockers of the season. After the 31-24 loss, the Cowboys sputtered to a 6-4 record the rest of the season.
The offensive goes through senior quarterback Daniel Sams. In 2014 Sams rushed for 711 yards to lead the Cowboys in that category. Additionally, he threw for 624 yards. Senior Tyler Bolfing passed for 990 yards last year. Another quarterback is 6-6 sophomore Grant Ashcraft.
Whoever the quarterback is, he will operate behind a veteran offensive line, which returns four starters if they are healthy. Senior Quentin Marsh is the left tackle, and senior Ben Jones is the right tackle. Nick Gorman, also a senior, returns at right guard. Martin Mason, a junior, started last season at the center position. This offensive line allowed only 2.5 sacks the entire 2014 season.
Ryan Ross, a sophomore running back, was the second leading rusher on the team with 599 yards. He averaged 5.7 yards per carry, and scored seven touchdowns. Senior Derrick Milton rushed for 287 yards, running for six touchdowns, averaging 5.5 yards per rush. Senior Dylan Long ran for 347 yards and 10 rushing touchdowns.
The Cowboys loss key wide receivers, so here, they will be a mystery.
On defense, like the Purple and Gold, the Cowboys have a talented defensive backfield. Senior Brent Spikes had 83 tackles last season, which led the team. Sophomore Dominique Hill had 34 stops last year, including 7.5 tackles for losses. Senior cornerback Gabe Hamner had 29 tackles, and sophomore cornerback Jermaine Antonie added 28 stops.
The Cowboys lost a lot on the defensive line. Isiah Golden, a sophomore transfer from Texas A&M, who sat out last year, had 30 tackles, including six tackles for losses, tfls, in six starts as a freshman for the Aggies.
McNeese State will, no doubt, employ a wide open, spread type offense against the Tigers. The Cowboys will not be intimidated, so the Purple and Gold will have to be ready to play.