Discover more from Blue & Gold Media at Mississippi College
Three Key Takeaways from The Choctaws’ Loss to McNeese State
The offense and defense continue to be up and down, while special teams showed improvement.
Choctaw football suffered their second loss in a row Saturday, on the road against Division I opponent McNeese State. While the Choctaws played hard, McNeese’s talent was too much to overcome, and they fell 32-17. This improves the Cowboys to 1-3 while the Choctaws fall to 1-3 as well. Here are three things Choctaw fans can take away from the contest.
As they have in every game this season, the Choctaws came out on their first drive and marched the ball right down the field for a touchdown. However, also like in previous weeks seemed to stall out after that, as the Choctaws wouldn’t score again until the third quarter.
While quarterback DeAnte Smith-Moore didn’t throw any interceptions, the Choctaw offense still struggled to hold onto the ball as they lost two fumbles on the day. Fumbles have plagued this offense all season, and are a sure way to kill any momentum their triple-option offense creates.
The passing game continues to be up-and-down, as while Smith-Moore went just 3-11 on the game, he hit Vionte Williams for a 21-yard touchdown in the third quarter to keep the game within reach 18-14.
The Choctaw defensive backs played well, limiting McNeese quarterback Kadum Knox to just 51 passing yards and one touchdown on 16 attempts while breaking up three passes and getting their first interception of the season. However, the defense continues to struggle to contain the run. The Cowboys had two runners carry for well over 100 yards as D’Angelo Durham picked up 159 and a touchdown on just 14 carries and Deonta McMahon picked up 138 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries.
Aside from the Keiser game, this has been a sticking point for the defense all season as they have struggled to defend the middle of the field and wrap on run plays, which will be crucial as they approach the bulk of their GSC schedule.
Special teams have been a struggle for this team, going back to last season when the Choctaws only attempted two field goals and hit neither of them, including a miss in the fourth quarter against Delta State that would have put the Choctaws ahead late. The struggles have continued this season as they are just 7-11 on extra points and have had three blocked this season.
The Choctaws seem to have remedied these issues as they went 3-3 on the day. Freshman kicker Ben Pledger made both of his extra point attempts on the day and also hit a 46-yard field goal in the fourth quarter. That field goal is the first make for the Choctaws since 2019, when Drake McCarter converted a 2nd quarter attempt during their rivalry game against Delta State on November 16.
The Choctaws have also vastly improved in the punting game. Another newcomer, junior Houston Smith has helped the Choctaws improve from 34.7 yards per punt to 39.6. While the difference in yards is not drastic, he has also repeatedly helped the field position battle in the early going this season by pinning the opposing offense deep in their own territory.
Thanks for reading! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support Blue & Gold Media.