Mississippi State football: Mike Leach to reevaluate roster

In a shocking turn of events, after Mississippi State football upset LSU just two weeks ago, head coach Mike Leach told ESPN he will have to evaluate the roster and he may have to “purge” some “malcontents” who don’t fit the plan.

This statement from Leach comes after Mississippi State’s 24-2 loss at Kentucky last Saturday. The Bulldogs had opened the season with a huge 44-34 win at defending national champion LSU. The air raid offense set an SEC-record 623 passing yards in Week 1 but failed to score a single offensive point and threw six interceptions against Kentucky. Mississippi State has dropped two in a row including a 21-14 loss in the home opener against Arkansas, which snapped a 20-game conference losing streak for the Razorbacks.

After the Kentucky game, Leach placed the blame not on himself, but on his players.

”We’re going to have to check some of our group and figure out who really wants to play here,” Leach said according to ESPN, “because any malcontents, we’re going to have to purge a couple of those.”

Quarterback K.J. Costello, a Stanford graduate transfer, has not played great since his historic performance in the season opener. After receiving national headlines and a spotlight as a big as some Hollywood superstars, Costello has completed 69% of his passes for 545 yards with one touchdown and seven interceptions since. Costello threw four interceptions against Kentucky, including his third pick-six of the season.

”We didn’t play together at all,” Leach said. “You can really say all things. We’ve got to figure out a way to a way to clean that up. Their three guys up front can consistently beat our five. Our receivers did not consistently catch the ball… We’ve turned the ball over, which was a byproduct of the quarterback’s eyes not being in the right place.”

In the mid-point of the third quarter, Leach pulled Costello in favor of freshmen Will Rogers. Rogers did not play too much better throwing for 43 yards and two interceptions.

When asked if Costello would remain Mississippi State’s starter, Leach said, “We’ll have to go back and take a look and see.”

The full blame was not placed onto the quarterback play as Leach noted that the offenses’ problems are “unit-wide.” Poor offensive line play, penalties, and dropped passes were all issues that plagued the Bulldogs against Kentucky.

”Offensively, we’re not coaching very well right now. We have to coach better,” Leach said. “If you look at this game, nearly every problem that we have was self-inflicted. With a lot of respect to Kentucky, but one self-inflicted wound after the next. I’ve been in plenty games where we didn’t drop any balls. I don’t know how many balls we dropped but I lost count.”

Mississippi State football will have to do better offensively if it hopes to keep its SEC postseason hopes alive. The defense has been great, but the last two weeks have shown it cannot carry the offense to a victory in this conference.

”We’ve got to become a better offense,” Leach said. “We’ve got a new system, we’ve got some youth and inexperience, and we’ve just got to stick together and coach our way through it.”

Leach further clarified his comments at his weekly press conference on Monday afternoon. Leach noted that this predicament is something that just comes with the territory when inheriting a new roster and implementing an entirely new system.

”This happens any time you take over a new program. I think we do have some fence riders that are trying to decide if they’re going to commit to what everybody is doing here,” Leach said at his press conference. “Any time there’s a transition, there are a certain number of guys that are going to do the wait and see thing. Well, that’s too bad. The train rolls on. They need to jump on board really quick, or the train is going to roll on without them.”

Mississippi State football will have a chance to redeem themselves this Saturday at home against No. 11 Texas A&M. The game will be televised on SEC Network at 4 p.m. ET.

Photo courtesy of MSU Athletic Communications