Mike Leach warns that roster ‘purge’ could be coming at MSU

Mississippi State was the talk of college football after opening its season with a road upset over LSU in Mike Leach’s debut. 

Two weeks later, MSU is reeling. 

Since that win over the defending national champions, the Bulldogs have dropped two straight games. Last week, it was a 21-14 loss to Arkansas, a team that hadn’t won an SEC game since October 2017. On Saturday, the Bulldogs were embarrassed on the road against Kentucky, losing 24-2. 

Yes, 24-2. Leach’s heralded Air Raid offense failed to score a single point despite throwing the ball a whopping 70 times. Those attempts — 55 from Week 1 hero K.J. Costello and freshman Will Rogers — went for a total of 275 yards with six interceptions. 

The only points MSU put on the board came via a safety in the third quarter. Ugly, ugly, ugly. 

After the game, Leach said roster changes could be necessary to get things going. 

“I think we’re going to have to kind of check some of our group and figure out who really wants to play here,” Leach said. “Any malcontents, we’re going to have to purge a couple of those.”

Mississippi State coach Mike Leach stands on the sideline during the second half of the team’s game against Kentucky on Saturday. (AP Photo/Bryan Woolston)

Leach: MSU’s problems are ‘self-inflicted’

Leach pointed to an array of issues on the offense. There were dropped passes, turnovers, guys not being in the right spot and an inability to protect the quarterback. Just to name a few. 

“Their three guys up front consistently beat our five. Our receivers did not consistently catch the ball. We were able to get open, but we didn’t consistently catch the ball. We turned the ball over, which was the byproduct of the quarterback’s eyes not being in the right place. Long story short, offensively, we’re not coaching very well right now. I mean, we have to coach better. If you look at this game, nearly every problem that we had was self-inflicted,” Leach told reporters. 

Leach was mostly even-keeled when speaking with reporters, saying the team needs to “hang in there” through this rough patch as the coaches “carefully look at the guys we’re playing and what we’re asking them to do.”

“We’re on too much of a roller-coaster. We’re too quick to get discouraged,” Leach said. “Some of these lessons have to come from experience but we have to see if we can make them happen a lot quicker than they are right now.”

Leach has had the task of installing his Air Raid offense at other schools throughout his career, but this offseason has been different because of the pandemic. There was no spring practice, and there were no non-conference games. MSU has gone straight into SEC competition. 

“The whole COVID stuff. We didn’t have spring football. The other thing is usually you have a couple games where you kind of tune things up which are quite valuable,” Leach said. “But, you know, it is what it is. We don’t have any complaints. We’re in the same boat everybody else is in in this conference.”

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