2017 In A Sentence: A highly-successful 9-2 season ended in disappointment when the Cowboys weren’t invited to the FCS playoffs, doomed by a Week 1 last-second loss to Nicholls State and a schedule loaded with under-.500 teams.
Biggest Shoes to Fill: Loads returns for the Cowboys, but LB Ashari Goins was a veteran presence on the defense that will need to be replaced. He notched 57 tackles and 5 tackles for loss in 2017.
Key Player: Can QB James Tabary out-perform the other quarterbacks in the Southland this season? An Arkansas State transfer, Tabary put up about as quiet a 2,511 yard, 21 passing TD season as one possibly could last season, but somehow he managed to not be mentioned as the top quarterback in the conference, even though he could be the most complete signallcaller in the conference in 2018. He’ll have to prove it, though.
Fearless Prediction: Think McNeese State will be a little bit motivated when Nicholls State comes to town in Week 4? Somehow, for the second straight season, McNeese misses playing conferencemate Sam Houston State and plays their toughest league competition, Nicholls State and Central Arkansas, at home. The problem is they may need to go 10-1 in order to make the playoffs with their weak schedule, with seven teams that finished below-.500 in FCS play.