McNeese expecting physical game when taking on Alcorn on Saturday

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LORMAN, Miss. – McNeese showed a drastic improvement in last Saturday’s 42-21 win over Florida Tech from the prior week’s 37-35 last second loss at Nicholls.

Those improvements will need to continue this week when the Cowboys visit three-time defending SWAC East champion Alcorn State at 6 p.m. at ASU’s Spinks-Casem Stadium.

The game will be broadcast live on the McNeese Radio Network (92.9 FM The Lake) while a link to a live audio stream can be found on McNeeseSports.com.

McNeese (1-1) improved in several areas in the home opening win over the Panthers – scoring touchdowns in the red-zone, possessing a strong running game late in the contest, and cutting down on penalties.

“We had a lot of good things happen in that game (vs. Florida Tech),” said head coach Lance Guidry. “Offensively, we scored in the red-zone, which was really good. We were able to capitalize on an early turnover and score. We cut down on penalties. Those were all things we couldn’t do against Nicholls.

“Defensively, we stopped the run well again. We had six sacks which was really good.

“We had a lot of good we can take from it but we still have a bunch of areas to improve.”

McNeese and Alcorn will face off for just the third time in the history of the series, and first since the 2001 season. The Cowboys have won the previous two games by a combined score of 95-26.

Alcorn (1-1) is coming off a hard-fought, 17-10 loss to FBS member Florida International in a game that was moved from Miami to Birmingham because of Hurricane Irma.

In that game, the Braves tied the contest up at 10-10 with 3:54 to play in the game before FIU scored the game-winning touchdown with just over a minute to play.

“We’re going to have to play our best game this week,” said Guidry. “They’re a very athletic ball club. The quarterback (Lenorris Footman) is a really good athlete. They’re coached by (Fred McNair) Steve McNair’s brother, who is very familiar with the program and has a lot of pride in it.”

The two programs are similar in terms of statistics.

McNeese is averaging 436 yards per game of offense while Alcorn is putting up 441 yards. Both teams are averaging over 190 yards on the ground (McNeese 192, ASU 196) and are nearly identical in the passing department (McNeese 244, ASU 246).

Where the two differ is on the defensive side of the ball.

The Cowboys’ defense is allowing just 62 yards per game rushing, 91 yards less than what the Braves allow.

“We’re going to have our hands full,” said Guidry. “I think it’s going to be who’s the most physical football team who is going to win. Our kids need to be up to the challenge.”

Footman is a dual-threat quarterback who has thrown for 453 yards and two touchdowns while rushing for 159 yards and two more scores. He ran for 103 yards and two touchdowns in a season opening win over Miles College.

Running back De’Lance Turner tops the team with 165 yards rushing and a 9.2 yards per carry average. The 6-foot-1, 214-pound senior opened up the season with 131 yards and a touchdown.

For the Cowboys, quarterback James Tabary has connected on 46 of 71 passes for 487 yards and five touchdowns. His top three targets through two games are Kent Shelby (10 catches for 109 yards), Tavarious Battiste (8-90), and Lawayne Ross (8-70).

Justin Pratt leads the team in rushing with 133 yards on 30 carries and two touchdowns. Benjamin Jones (9-92) and David Hamm (20-88) follow as the threesome gives the Cowboys three different types of runners – Pratt who is low to the ground and can cut on a dime, Hamm who is a bruiser, and Jones who is a bullet.

Against FIT, the trio rushed for 107 yards in the fourth quarter alone.

McNeese is 11-0 all-time against members of the SWAC. The last opponent from the league to play the Cowboys was Prairie View, a 48-16 win for McNeese in 2014.

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