Analyzing McNeese State: Offense

Posted: August 29, 2013 in Uncategorized

McNeese State runs a fairly balanced offense, attacking both on the ground and air at the same rate.  Their starting quarterback returns with a lot of experience, but their offensive line is a little shaky.  The Cowboys will attack in various ways, even using a wildcat style of quarterback, so the USF defense better be ready for this opening game. 

Quarterbacks

Cody Stroud – 6’3″ 194 lbs. – Senior – Stroud is the senior and returning starter for the Cowboys.  He completed 170 passes out of 278 attempts last year, throwing for 2097 yards along with 19 touchdowns and 5 interceptions.  He carried the ball 37 times for -47 yards but did score 5 rushing touchdowns.  Stroud enters the season ranked 6th all time in the career passing yardage list for the Cowboys and has been a solid arm for them the last two years.  He thrown the deep pass, but tends to throw most his passes in the 15-25 yard range, not relying on the deep ball too often.

Behind him are sophomore Tyler Bolfing (6’2″ 207 lbs.) who completed 7 out of 9 passes for 92 yards and one touchdown and sophomore Leon Blouin (6′ 210 lbs.) who completed 2 out of 3 attempts for 32 yards.

Look for Stroud to be the go-to guy for the Cowboys.  He has a solid arm, but doesn’t have a lot of speed, so don’t expect him to burn anyone with his legs.  The defensive line needs to pressure him and make sure he is not able to complete the short, easy passes that can keep drives alive and eat up the clock.

Running backs/fullbacks

The Cowboys return their top two running backs from last season, accounting for 1457 yards out of the 2304 total yards from last season.

Senior Marcus Wiltz (5’9″ 192 lbs.) carried the ball 115 times for 651 yards (5 yards per carry) and scored 6 touchdowns.  He also caught 6 passes for 47 yards as well.  Fellow senior Javaris Murray (5’8″ 180 lbs.) carried it 87 times for 506 yards  and 3 touchdowns, giving the Cowboys a solid tandem of senior running backs.  Sophomore Kelvin Bennett (5’11” 172 lbs.) carried it 34 times for 302 yards and scored 3 touchdowns.  He also had 4 catches for 55 yards and a score.  Bennett, compared to Wiltz, is a much faster running back and will be brought in to be the change of pace guy and give them the speed burner out of the backfield.

Wiltz is the starter for the Cowboys and will split carries with Murray and Bennett.  One thing to note about the running backs for McNeese State is their overall size.  No one is over 200 lbs., making them fairly small.  The USF linebackers should be able to plug up the run game against them and make sure they can’t get huge gains up the middle, but they must protect the edges to avoid those big runs.

At fullback, sophomore Dilion Long (6′ 226 lbs.) is the starter.  He had 3 catches for 31 yards and a score last season, but didn’t carry it once.  Redshirt freshman Bryce Hebert (5’10” 234 lbs.) did not play last season, but will be ready to go this year.  Long is the starter for this position, but he really isn’t a major threat on offense and will mostly be used as a blocker on running plays and to keep Stroud on his feet.

Wide receivers/tight ends

The Cowboys have several returning starters at both positions.  Senior Ernest Celestie (5’11” 183 lbs.) caught 21 passes for 246 yards and a touchdown last year.  Behind him is sophomore David Bush (5’9″ 180 lbs.) who transferred over from TCU last season where he caught 4 passes for 36 yards.  At the second wide receiver position is senior Wes Briscoe (6’2″ 168 lbs.) who caught 13 passes for 222 yards and 3 touchdowns.  Behind him is track star Diontae Spencer (5’9″ 161 lbs.) who caught 31 passes for 413 yards and 2 touchdowns.  At the third receiver position is senior Jereon McGilvey (6’3″ 198 lbs.) who caught 3 passes for 28 yards and a score.  Behind him is redshirt freshman Damson Gladney (6’1 180 lbs.).  Celestie is their big threat and Spencer is a speed guy, so it will be a solid first test for the Bulls passing game to start the season.

At tight end, the Cowboys have junior LSU transfer Nic Jacobs (6’5″ 240 lbs.) who appeared in 19 games for the Tigers and appears to be a rising star for the Cowboys.  Junior Kendale Thomas (6’1″ 230 lbs.) caught 7 passes for 69 yards and scored 2 touchdowns last year.

Overall, the wide receiver/tight end position is solid for the Cowboys.  Celestie and Spencer are their primary targets and the tight ends will get involved.  It will be a good first test for the USF secondary.

Offensive line

The offensive line for the Cowboys is fairly young and inexperienced.  McNeese State moved two defensive linemen during the spring to bolster the front and will be relying on some young freshmen to step up.

Here is how their line will look, barring an injuries or last minute changes:

LT – Antoine Everett (6’3″ 304 lbs. – Junior), Patrick Jacobs (6’4″ 280 lbs. – Redshirt freshman)

LG – Quinton Marsh (6’2″ 287 lbs. – Sophomore), Cody Eaves (6’4″ 275 lbs. – Sophomore)

C – Mason Martin (6’2″ 295 lbs. – Redshirt freshman), Nick Gorman (6’2″ 279 lbs. – Sophomore)

RG – Arinze Agada (6’1″ 289 lbs. – Junior), Nick Smith (6’4″ 275 lbs. – Sophomore)

RT – Ben Jones (6’3″ 281 lbs. – Redshirt freshman), Taylor Donaldson (6’3″ 305 lbs. – Redshirt freshman)

Combined total, the Cowboys only have 11 career starts among all their returning linemen, all coming from right guard Arinze Agada who is the star up front.  Both Quinton Marsh, the starting left guard and Nick Gorman, the back-up center, are converted defensive linemen.  At right tackle, there are two redshirt freshmen and there is one starting at center.  Overall, there is not a lot of experience up in the trenches for the Cowboys and it will be something the USF front 7 has to take advantage of.

The Cowboys are thin up front and could also rely on some freshmen to play key roles, including freshman Thor Miller (6’3″ 286 lbs. ) out of Bradenton, FL (was mentioned highly in their media guide).

So what does this mean for the USF defense?  It should mean a feast for the Bulls starting defensive line.  I would expect a lot of sacks to come from the front 7.  Aaron Lynch should have a coming out party and everyone else should be able to put a lot of heat on Stroud and bottle up the running game, making life a little easier for the secondary to start the season.

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