What Mike Leach said after Mississippi State’s loss to Auburn




What Mike Leach said after Mississippi State’s loss to Auburn

Mike Leach’s first meeting with Gus Malzahn ended like his last one in -- with his team on the losing end.

Mississippi State fell to Auburn, 24-10, on Saturday night in Starkville, Miss., in a game that was close but ugly for the better part of three quarters before the Tigers pulled away in the final period. Afterward, Leach met with the media via Zoom. Here’s a look at what he had to say about the Bulldogs’ performance:

MIKE LEACH, Mississippi State coach

On lack of offensive rhythm…

“Well, I thought their defense—Auburn’s got a good defense, and they have most of the year. I thought we missed some opportunities. I thought we had some self-inflicted wounds. It’s almost like the worst thing happened at the worst time type of thing for us. We moved the ball, and then you know have a guy wide open and all of a sudden not protect, or protect pretty well and have guys get jammed at the line of scrimmage. I’m sure Will’s got a couple of throws he’d like to have over again. Some of those were a combination of protection and routes clearing and some of that. You know, we just got to fight through it and improve as a team. It’s the same thing—of course, nobody really thought when you started this season that we’d play Auburn this close, so you guys were certainly in for a pleasant surprise there. In our case, we’re kind of reeling from the disappointment of not playing as well as we could’ve in this game.”

On the status of Marquis Spenser, who was carted off the field in the fourth quarter…

“Yeah, he’s moving around and he’s doing—it looks very positive at the hospital and everything.”

On Will Rogers’ interceptions….

“Well, he was pressured on both of them. One he just flat-out forced; he should’ve thrown it out of bounds. The other one, he got hit as he was throwing it, and there were defenders there because at the outside receiver position we didn’t clear them out of there. Kind of got jammed and then jogged on our route.”

On failing to get a big play after keeping Auburn at bay…

“We just got to keep rolling. We’re kind of thin at (wide receiver), to be perfectly honest with you. It’s been hit and miss, but we got to keep working. We got to keep grinding away. I thought some of the 50-50 balls we should’ve been better at.”

On the overturned targeting call in the first half…

“If you give me $10,000, I’ll give you the best explanation you’ve ever had in your entire life.”

On K.J. Costello and the decision to stick with Will Rogers…

“It wasn’t a competition. Will’s been steadily improving, so no, I planned to play Will.”

On future of the offense…

“No, there isn’t (any panic), and I’ve seen steady improvement—and actually improvement that I’ve been quite proud of these guys, and I was proud of how hard they played today. We’re haphazard at times and that sort of thing. We’ve got a lot of youth out there, and I think they’re improving, and I think they continue to get better.”

On the six sacks from Auburn…

“I’d have to go back and watch the film. To me, it seemed like they were individual breakdowns, basically individuals—it didn’t seem like it was one guy; it was like they took turns. If you take turns eight times, those were huge plays, and that was kind of unfortunate. When one of them would take turns, there’d be Wally or somebody wide open, ready for a gigantic play. One of those interceptions would’ve been a monster play, but he didn’t step through—the ball floated because he got hit—if he could’ve stepped through, that was going to be a monster play. We had several like that, and it was like we took turns at the worst possible times. We had other issues, too, I think—overtried for a while, played tense. Motivating them wasn’t difficult; playing tense and trying too hard to make it happen was, but just playing keep-away with regard to opportunities we had out there.”

On the takeaway from this game…

“We were within less than a touchdown for three quarters of it, then we were within a touchdown. Part of me is wondering if you and I saw the same game.”

On if the offense is still right progressing despite tonight’s performance…

“I don’t know if that’s entirely true. I think we had less mishaps, I would say, but Auburn’s a great defense and has been throughout the season, so we’re going to keep up the constant work. If you’d like, I could proofread some of your articles and see if you’re on a constant upswing as well. I minored in English, so I could do it if you have any material you’d like to send me, and I could go ahead and evaluate it to see if you’re on an upward trend.”

On Mississippi State’s bowl situation…

“It’s kind of a moving target. I don’t know the details on it, and I don’t know if it’s been decided yet with regard to that. If we had a chance to play another game, no matter what form it comes in, I’d be thrilled to do it because it’s a great opportunity for our team to work and continue to build because we had a shortened camp, and of course didn’t get spring ball, so we’d like to pack that in as much as we possibly can. Add to that a game on the other end of it, all the better.”

Tom Green is an Auburn beat reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @Tomas_Verde.

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