Football working to ensure more wins next season


FILE – In this Oct. 22, 2016, file photo, a McNeese State player prepares to kick the ball for a field goal. Northwestern State lost this game to McNeese 48-27. Photo by Alec Horton

Northwestern State’s football team won a single game last season. Despite the unfavorable record, players and coaches are optimistic the upcoming season will be better than the last.

Kyle Manley, assistant offensive coordinator and recruiting coordinator, was unimpressed with the team’s performance last season.

“We are doing everything we can to get it fixed,” Manley said.

The team worked throughout the spring semester to improve in three categories: offense, defense and special teams.

“Everyone can improve at every position,” Manley said. “There will be some new schemes on both sides of the ball that will hopefully make us more successful… We all expect to win a lot more games and work towards a conference championship.”

Quarterback and psychology major J.D. Almond said he is sure the team is better than what their stats suggest.

“Our record is not a great reflection of our season,” Almond said. “We had success in many ways throughout the 11 weeks… We grew as a team and staff last year.”

Almond thinks people ignore things that improved last season. Each game had highlights that were overlooked because the team lost in the end.

“Our guys gave it everything week in and week out regardless of the record we held,” Almond said. “We have identified the areas that need work, and we have put in the time and effort to get better as a whole. Working while tired and staying sharp mentally has been a huge focal point.”

To improve the performance of the team in the 2017 season, NSU hired two new assistant coaches: Jeff Bowen, offensive line coach; and Jake Olsen, assistant coach – inside linebackers. In addition to these two coaches, Brad Laird has returned to NSU as associate head coach and defensive coordinator after a four-year tenure as head coach at Ruston High School.

“Coach Laird brings a lot of experience as well as familiarity with NSU, having played and coached here,” Manley said. “He will do a great job leading our defense this fall.”

Manley said he is looking forward to the new players joining the team this fall.

“We signed a little bit of everything,” Manley said. “We tried to have a good balance of guys that can help us right away as well as young guys that will be really good a few years from now.”