Jim Gazzolo column: Goff sees infinity, beyond

Published 3:00 pm Thursday, March 30, 2023

A year ago, McNeese State’s spring football game was anything but that.

At best it was a controlled practice, stopped every few plays for rest. There weren’t enough healthy players in camp to keep going.

So the controlled chaos led to at best an interesting morning workout that kept those in attendance interested enough for a few hours.

Not so this time.

“We are light-years ahead of where we were this time last season,” said McNeese head coach Gary Goff.

Now in his second season Goff has position battles and depth. Nowhere is that more obvious than at quarterback. It is also a spot where you can best see the difference from last season.

Once again there is a battle for the starting job between two transfers, but that is about where the similarities end.

Last year one got the feeling that Goff and his staff was picking their starting quarterback more as the lesser of two evils rather than from a position of strength.

None of the candidates had much of a track record in college and all seemed to have some kind of limitations. It’s probably why four QBs got playing time with three getting starts.

Not one of them really claimed the job like you want your quarterback to do. That was not the only factor in the Cowboys finishing 4-7 but it was a major one for sure.

“There is no more important position than quarterback,” Goff said.

This year looks different. The battle at quarterback is now something to be watched for positives as much as negatives.

While the group is far from a finished product, there have been lots of positives through the first few weeks. Better footwork, better throws and a better understanding on decision-making.

Yes, there have still been too many turnovers and dropped passes, but there is much, much more it would seem to work with. Nate Glantz and Tre Simmons seem to be battling it out from positions of strength instead of weakness.

And they seem to be on the same page.

“They are both competitive, but they are also working together,” Goff said.

That was never said last season and seems to be the attitude of the entire team.

All this will be on display Saturday when McNeese plays its annual spring game, likely without as many stops in play this time. This one should resemble a real game rather than a practice.

There will be a lot of eyes on the two quarterbacks, though naming of a starter for the season is not likely going to come. There is no reason to make that official until at least summer workouts.

Fact is, time is on the side of the coaches as things will play out.

One thing is for sure: at least this spring things to be heading in a better direction.

Now, if some receivers can step up Saturday, then there will be lots to talk about.

Jim Gazzolo is a freelance writer who covers McNeese State athletics for the American Press. Email him at