McNeese preparing for opener with Southern

Southern head coach Dawson Odums
Southern head coach Dawson Odums(Source: Josh Auzenne/Gray Television (custom credit) | Source: WAFB)
Updated: Aug. 23, 2019 at 8:50 PM CDT
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LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - The McNeese Cowboys kick off the 2019 season next Saturday in front of what could be their biggest crowd in 35 years. McNeese welcomes in-state foe Southern to Cowboy Stadium for the second-ever meeting between the two schools. The Cowboys visited Southern in 2004, beating the Jaguars 35-18.

The McNeese athletic department is preparing for a lot of blue and gold in the stadium that day— get it?

The attendance for the game could be well over the 20,000 mark which is a figure the Cowboys haven’t seen in Lake Charles since a matchup with the Grambling State Tigers in 2002. It’d be fitting for the other side of the Bayou Classic to be equally represented at Cowboy Stadium.

Southern will come into Lake Charles with plenty of confidence of their own following a runner-up finish in the conference a year ago. The team was recently ranked No. 3 overall in the HBCU polls and is the preseason favorite to win the SWAC’s western division.

The Jags are led on offense by junior quarterback LaDarius Skelton who accounted for 1,515 yards and 18 touchdowns in just six games in 2018. Southern also returns all-conference running back Devon Benn, in addition to all five offensive linemen.

The Cowboys are aware of how dangerous this Southern offense is.

“They’re a really good team. Their quarterback is pretty athletic so we’ll work on keeping him caged. We have to watch out for their running backs too," admitted McNeese defensive end Chris Livings. "They’re a real good athletic team, so we have to focus on our fundamentals and our discipline.”

(Source: Josh Auzenne/Gray Television (custom credit) | Source: WAFB)

Defensively, the Jaguars have plenty of talent too. LSU transfer Davin Cotton leads the defensive along with nose tackle Dakavion Champion. Linebacker should also be a strength for the Jags as Calvin Lunkins returns. Lunkins led Southern with 82 tackles a season ago. Another defensive leader is safety Montavius Gaines, who should help lock down the back end for an experienced unit.

“Their linebackers play hard and play fast," McNeese offensive lineman Grant Burguillos said. "They have some big guys up front that like to move, but I think we’ll be alright.”

The Cowboys and Jaguars kick off in Lake Charles, August 31 at 6 p.m.

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