McNeese starts final week of camp as depth chart starting to take shape

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LAKE CHARLES – A couple days removed from McNeese’s first scrimmage of the preseason and having studied film of the event, Cowboys’ head coach Lance Guidry came away seeing some good things but now it’s time to make the Cowboys great as they head into their final week of fall camp.

“I thought we were very average,” said Guidry of the scrimmage. “Nothing really excited me. I saw some young guys make some plays, which was good. Some of the older guys, I expected a little bit more out of them. We’re still not there yet, by any means, but I have high expectations for this football team. And they (the players) have high expectations.

“If they have the same high expectations I have, I’m going to try to get it out of them. I don’t think we’re doing poor by any means, I just think we’re on par, we’re average. And I don’t want to be just good, I want to be great.”

The Cowboys started off their final week of preseason camp on Monday morning in Cowboy Stadium being pushed by Guidry and the staff to becoming a great team.

“The defense had an extremely great day today,” said Guidry of the team’s practice in shoulder pads and shorts. “There were a lot of people flying around and making plays. They pretty much won every period today and that’s what I want to see defensively.”

In Saturday’s scrimmage, the defense dominated the first five series of the event but the offense got things rolling and began to move the ball through the air. Despite the running game being shut down, the offense managed to score three touchdowns and rack up nearly 300 yards of offense in the live portion of the scrimmage that consisted of approximately 85 plays.

The defense played without several starters and regulars on Saturday as well, including defensive backs Jermaine Antoine, Dominque Hill and Josh Washington along with defensive lineman Antonio McGhee while the offense was without starting running back Justin Pratt, tight end Austin Nelson and wide receiver Darious Crawley.

“We had some older guys that needed to pick it up,” said Guidry about missing those players in the scrimmage. “When you have some guys out, and young guys have to play, I expect the older guys to play even at a higher level and they didn’t. They played very average. When you sprinkle in a bunch of young guys with older guys playing average, that’s not good.

“I told them they have to raise their game up when we add new people in there. They took it well. They came out here, especially defensively, came with it today.”

Guidry said the Cowboys will go live with tackling for several plays on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. He said because of that, Saturday morning’s final scrimmage will not include as many live plays as this past Saturday but will instead involve much more situational aspects.

“We’re going to tackle a lot tomorrow (Tuesday),” said Guidry. “We’ll do more on Wednesday and Thursday and will probably go about 40 live snaps on Saturday, but we’ll have all kinds of situations.”

The defensive line and linebackers appear to be set with Jammerio Gross-Whitaker and Chris Livings on the ends with Kurt Viges and Antonio McGhee in the middle. However with McGhee out with a mild calf injury, senior Jalan Bowers took some snaps with the first team on Saturday.

Ashari Goins and Christian Jacobs have been running with the No. 1s all camp at linebacker.

The defensive backfield is the spot that has seen the most changes during camp. The only consistent starter throughout camp has been Andre Fuller at the free safety spot.

Darion Dunn is currently the starting corner on the field side with Jermaine Antoine the starter in the boundary with freshman Colby Richardson moving up behind Antoine.

“We still have a fight with a bunch of the other guys in the field (CB spot) with Kyree McLean and Colby Burton,” said Guidry. “I’m trying to get the best two corners on the field and definitely trying to position the top four guys.”

Newcomer BJ Blunt seems to have solidified a starting nod at the weak safety position with Damion (Morgan) making a push. Gabe Foster is currently backing up Fuller at free safety with Erik Jones behind him, and Dominique Hill at the buck safety spot.

On offense, the most intriguing battle is on the offensive line where line coach Ben Norton continues to shuffle players around to learn different positions that will help give the Cowboys more depth.

Running back Justin Pratt has missed the last several days of camp due to a death in the family, but he’s expected back on Tuesday and back into the starting running back spot.

“We’re steadily making some depth chart changes and we’ll see if some people can hold off other guys and if people can climb back up,” said Guidry.”

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