Footprints towards greatness led up to the Jack V. Doland Field House on Tuesday when the McNeese Cowboys reported for fall camp to kickoff the 2017 football season.
The maximum of 105 players allowed to report and expected into camp arrived with energy, enthusiasm, and a common goal – champions, both Southland and National titles.
Newcomers reported Tuesday morning, getting checked in with equipment followed by meetings with compliance and study lab officials before heading into position meetings while the veterans rolled in for a 4 p.m. meeting before meeting with compliance and academic personnel.
“We want the kids to pick up where they left off in the spring,” said head coach Lance Guidry who is starting his second season at the helm. “Of course we want the older guys to be better than what they were. It’s going to be nice to see some young guys and some guys who have transferred in here try to make a difference on this football team.”
McNeese will hold its first practice at 9 on Wednesday morning in shorts and helmets. The Cowboys will slip on the shoulder pads for the first time on Friday and will go full pads on Sunday.
“I expect us to play fast on both sides of the football,” said Guidry of his expectations for Wednesday’s practice. “I want to be sharp. I want us to play error-free. I don’t want to see a lot of bad throws from the quarterbacks. Of course if we have some interceptions on defense, I want the defensive backs to have to earn it.
“I want it to be really clean, not a lot of balls on the ground. I want them to get out there and communicate well and play fast.”
This year, the NCAA set a new rule that banned two-a-day practices in preseason camp. Last season, the Cowboys have three-quarters of their preseason camp practices affected by afternoon storms so that was the main factor in McNeese moving to mornings this August.
“We have always set up for morning walk through and evening practices over the years,” said Guidry. “But last year we battled a lot of lightning delays. With that history, we felt it was better to move practices to the morning. Also, with no two-a-days, if we left it in the afternoon and we were rained out, we wouldn’t be able to make it up. Now, if we practice in the morning and get lightning delayed or rain, we can still push it back to the afternoon and if we can’t get it in there, we still have the night time to practice. We feel like we have three shots to get a practice in.”
McNeese, who finished 6-5 last season, returns a total of 18 starts and 64 lettermen for 2017.
The Cowboys will hold their first full scrimmage on Saturday, Aug. 12 at 6 p.m. in Cowboy Stadium then will wrap up fall camp with an Aug. 19 scrimmage that will begin at 9:45 a.m. at the A.I. Ratcliff Practice Fields. Both scrimmages will be open to the public.
• True freshman defensive back Hanif Muhammad will miss fall camp due to an injury sustained in offseason workouts. No timetable has been set for his return.
• Senior RB Ryan Ross is doing light running drills as he’s still recovering from a broken ankle he suffered in the spring game.
• Two defensive back transfers are expected join the Cowboys this August but details were not released until final paperwork is complete.
• All practices will be closed to the public.