LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - McNeese has had quite the non-conference slate to begin the 2019 season. Sandwiched between a trip to Stillwater to face Oklahoma State are a pair of matchups against two of the top teams from the SWAC. The Southern Jags and this Saturday’s opponent, the Alcorn State Braves, who have won three of the last five SWAC titles.
"We have the SWAC champions coming in but it's just us," McNeese running back D'Andre Hicks said. "We're focusing on us and trying to make plays and do what we do. Everything is about us. If we do what we do then we can beat anybody whether it's FBS or FCS."
"I'm glad they did what they did," McNeese safety JoVon Burriss said. "They won the SWAC and they beat Southern just like we beat Southern. We're always up for the big challenge. We don't want to just play anybody, we want the best of the best. I'm glad they did all that so when they come here we can see what we're about."
The Braves live and die by what they're able to do offensively and have a pair of studs in the backfield. Quarterback Noah Johnson and running back De'Shawn Waller both accounted for over 1000 yards and double-digit scores on the ground a season ago. Both entered 2019 on the watch list for the Walter Payton Award and could cause some problems for this McNeese defense.
"You have to be disciplined when you're playing against the option," added Burriss. "We have to keep our eyes on our keys and practice that all week so when the game comes and it's full speed everybody is where they need to be. I feel like that's going to be one of the challenges we have this week."
“The thing with guys that are dual-threat guys is the fact that they’re dual-threat for a reason,” McNeese head coach Sterlin Gilbert said. “They can do both and usually do both pretty well, well enough that they can take advantage of one or the other. We have to play with great tenacity on that side and be physical and be sound.”
The two teams have recent history with the Cowboys winning a close one in Lorman two seasons ago. They'll aim to stay perfect against the Braves and SWAC teams this weekend as Saturday's matchup will be one last tuneup for the Pokes before beginning Southland play.