SLC Football Media Day officially kicks off 2022 season
Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) - Tough. Attitude. Discipline. Those are the core values of the McNeese Cowboy football team under first-year head coach Gary Goff.
Goff, senior defensive end C.J. Semien and wide receiver/return specialist Mason Pierce took part in the 2022 Southland Conference Media Day on Wednesday at L’Auberge Resort and Casino in Lake Charles to officially kick off the season.
After being run through several different stations that included a social media suite, one-on-one interviews with various media from Louisiana and Texas, and recording PSAs for the league, the trio took the main stage for the ESPN+ live broadcast to preview the new look Cowboys.
“The best part of this job is being in Lake Charles,” said Goff who was hired in December and will be the fourth head coach in the last five years. “The people here have a true passion for McNeese Football. I’m excited to get back into The Hole and playing games under the lights.”
McNeese will kick-off its season on September 3 at preseason No. 2-ranked Montana State and will play its first home game on Sept. 17 vs. Alcorn State. The Cowboys have moved home kick-off times to 7 p.m. and will be playing night games for the first time since 2019 after Hurricane Laura damaged the previous lighting setup in August 2020.
“It’s going to be a great atmosphere to play back under the lights,” said Semien, a Lake Charles native and Barbe High product. “One off the biggest things about this season is being consistent and remind everyone about our culture. We have to keep our goals in mind and that’s winning games and championships.”
“It’s all about culture,” said Goff. “We had a rich tradition at Valdosta State and won a lot of championships but they also have a great culture, which is what we’re building back here. I’m very proud of our players for embracing what we’re doing. It’s about these young men in holding themselves accountable and holding each other accountable.”
The Cowboys posted a 4-7 record in 2021 and recorded losing season for the second straight year, the first since the 1989 and 1990 years. The last conference championship was in 2015 – the 14th in school history, but since, McNeese has posted just a 31-28 record. During that span, the program was hit with a postseason ban due to poor APR scores, endured damages from two hurricanes, and the Covid pandemic.
Structure, stability, consistency and accountability were four superlatives that eluded the Cowboys during that time.
Enter Goff who is primed to get the Cowboys back to where they belong and that’s atop the league standings and a FCS powerhouse.
“I was told when I first stepped foot in town we needed some pieces to the puzzle,” he said. “I’m a big believer in building a program with high school signees but sometimes you need to use the (transfer) portal. We added 15 transfers to this team. I hope in six to seven months we look back and see that the portal was good to us.”
McNeese fieled 54 abled bodies this past spring but has since added 50 new players to the roster, including dual threat quarterback Cam Ransom from Georgia Southern, speedy wide receiver Koby Duru from San Diego State, defensive back Malik Welch from San Jose State, and linebacker Amaud Will-Dalton from the University of Houston, just to name a few.
In addition to Ransom, the Cowboys signed Virginia Tech transfer Knox Kadum in the early period while returner Walker Wood has been moved back to the QB position after playing wide receiver last year.
“We’re going to have a quarterback battle on our hands,” said Goff. “But with the additions we’ve made and the returners we have, we’re going to have a battle at all of the positions. We’re anxious to start practice in August.”
McNeese returns five offensive linemen with starting experience, but only one, Calvin Barkat, went through spring practice. The Cowboys will have 17 linemen on the roster to start fall camp.
“Offensive line experience is important when running the Air Raid,” said Goff. “It all starts up front. It’s also important to have depth there as well.”
“I’m really excited about this new offense,” said Pierce. “Coach Goff has brought this team together and demands leadership in the locker room and on the field. We got better as a team on Day 1 of Coach Goff’s arrival.”
The Cowboys will begin fall camp on August 3.
COWBOYS PICKED FOURTH IN PRESEASON POLL
The McNeese Cowboys were picked for a fourth place finish in the Southland Conference Football Preseason Poll, presented by BuyB1.com
The Cowboys received 61 points in a poll conducted by league head coaches and sports information directors.
Southeastern Louisiana was selected to finish first with 90 points, edging out returning champion UIW who garnered 86 points. Nicholls followed in third with 79 points then McNeese. Rounding out the poll was Northwestern State 44, Texas A&M-Commerce 39, Lamar 25 and HBU 24.
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