Bryan Harsin offers his thoughts on Mike Leach's version of the Air Raid
Auburn head coach Bryan Harsin seems to have a good deal of respect for the Air Raid offense.
There are versions of the scheme everywhere in college football, with unique twists and identities added by different coaches, but on Saturday, Harsin and his Tigers will be tasked with slowing down the godfather of the modern Air Raid when they host Mississippi State and coach Mike Leach.
Auburn is doing its fair share of throwing the ball around the yard this season; it sits right in a clump of teams near the top of the SEC’s passing table. With 35 attempts a game, the Tigers are 4th in the conference. And yet the leader, Mississippi State, is throwing the ball nearly 20 times more each game. The Bulldogs have attempted 491 passes this season, the most of any FBS team. Quarterback Will Rogers has had at least 47 pass attempts in all but one game this year—a 36-for-39 performance in MSU’s 31-17 win over Kentucky.
Face off against Leach and you should expect to see a heavy dose of dropbacks. It’s what he’s done throughout his entire career.
On the SEC coaches teleconference call Tuesday, Harsin spoke highly of Leach’s commitment to the system.
Harsin on the Air Raid: “I like it. Particularly, I think what coach Leach does with it … Everybody kind of puts their spin on it a little bit, and I think coach Leach, he’s one of the originators. He’s got a good feel for what he does”
— Jordan D. Hill (@JordanDavisHill) November 10, 2021
He also added that Mississippi State is “a good football team, so we’re just really focused on ourselves preparing this week.” The Tiger secondary will be tested. Auburn ranks 105th in opponent completion percentage this season and 87th in passing success rate allowed. Creating some pressure will be key, though the Tigers are middle-of-the-pack in havoc rate forced (59th).
Auburn (6-3, 3-2 SEC), ranked 17th in the latest College Football Playoff ranking, will host Mississippi State (5-4, 3-3 SEC) on Saturday at noon ET on ESPN.