McNeese Football: Cowboys Prepare for Week One Matchup with Tarleton State

Published: Aug. 28, 2023 at 6:36 PM CDT
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LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - It is officially game week for the McNeese football team as they prepare for their first game of the 2023 season on Saturday when they welcome Tarleton State to Cowboy Stadium. On Monday, McNeese Head Coach Gary Goff met with the media ahead of the season opener.

“We’ve had a great camp, we really have, we’re healthy right now which is a big plus this time of year, but the guys have worked hard, I think both sides of the ball, offense and defense are pretty far along as far as our understanding of the schemes. We’re playing at a fast-paced level and picking up on things quickly, a lot more than we were a year ago,” said Goff on the state of his team heading into the start of the 2023 season, his second at the helm in Lake Charles.

The question that has been on the top of the minds of McNeese fans all offseason has been who is going to start at quarterback? A question Goff spoke about last week saying he knew who it was going to be, but he wasn’t going to tell anyone until the Pokes took the field on September 2nd, but on Monday he talked about his reasoning for not naming a quarterback quite yet.

“They (Tarleton State) haven’t named a starter yet either, and I don’t think there’s any need to to be honest, we’ve got two very capable young men (Nate Glantz and Tre Simmons) someone is probably going to look at them and game plan for them differently, and I think both of them bring a different element to the game, and at the same time they both run our offense perfectly fine. I’ve never played two quarterbacks before, but will we? I’m not sure, we could, I’m not going to rule that out by any means,” said Goff.

Entering Goff’s second year as head coach, McNeese is focused on improving, and bringing the program back to national prominence as it pertains to the FCS ranks, and in order to do so, they can’t get ahead of themselves.

“I can tell you from January on, this team’s been focused and locked in. We preach to them daily about working extremely hard and giving your best effort where your feet are planted. Don’t worry about an hour from now, don’t worry about a week from now, or even a year from now, line up and give your best effort to do the best job you can one play at a time. Do we want to start fast? Yes, everybody wants to start fast. I’m happy where we are right now as a program, I’m happy that I feel like this team from the coaches all the way down to the eighth-string players, it’s a tight-knit group and they understand the standards and expectations, and they understand that we can win together, but all it takes is for one person to go in the opposite direction, and it could cost us a game or a season. So I’m excited, I’m excited to see these guys get out there and perform.”

Just like McNeese, their week one opponent Tarleton State hasn’t named a starting quarterback quite yet, but Coach Goff doesn’t see that being a problem when it comes to game planning for the Texans.

“I don’t think we’ll have a different game plan no matter who they name as their starter, (defensive coordinator) Tony (Pecoraro) and the defense have been pretty locked into what their route concepts have been, what their run game packages have been, and I don’t expect them to be a lot different to what they were a year ago. Their head coach had been calling their offense, but now he’s turned it over to somebody that played with me and also worked with Mike Leach for the last six years so I think they’ll be very similar to what they were a year ago offensively.”

One thing Coach Goff focused on during the offseason was improving his offensive line from the 2022 season, giving his quarterbacks enough time to let plays develop, and giving his running backs holes to run through, and as he enters the 2023 season, he feels much more comfortable with the state of his offensive line, than he did a year ago.

“I feel great about this group, I really do, but you know the big thing is you’ve got to stay healthy, and right now that group is healthy. Our top eight guys, I’m very confident that any of them could be in the rotation, and could play, and we’ve got size, a year ago we didn’t have that size, we had a guard playing left tackle, our right guard, who was a preseason all-conference player, didn’t play in the first five games because of injury, he didn’t even go through summer camp, and the list goes on and on... so there was a lot with that group last year that didn’t go our way, but I am very happy with where we’re at with that front five, we’re strong, we’ve got some size, and we’ve got experience.”

McNeese’s matchup against Tarleton State is the third time the two schools have faced off with the Cowboys winning the past two, 33-3 in Lake Charles on September 3rd, 2016, and 40-37 in double overtime on February 13th, 2021 in Stephenville.

For the full press conference with head coach Gary Goff from Monday, click here.