Mississippi State football: Where do Bulldogs, Mike Leach turn at quarterback?
For the first time in what seems forever, Mike Leach has a quarterback controversy on his hands. Unfortunately for the Mississippi State head coach, there might be no answer to the problem.
It was wash, rinse and repeat for the Bulldogs offense on Saturday against Texas A&M and not in a good way. For the third straight week, K.J. Costello looked mediocre at quarterback, finishing 15-of-22 for 99 yards and an interception — plus he lost a fumble. That fumble happened not long after the Bulldogs’ defense had given the offense a break with Emmanuel Forbes’ 60-yard interception return for a touchdown.
For the second week in a row, enter Will Rogers. On his first possession at QB, the Bulldogs went 9 yards on 4 plays. On the next MSU drive, Rogers seemed to find a stride, leading Leach’s offense 89 yards on 13 plays for a touchdown that made the score 28-14 Aggies. On that drive, Rogers went 8-of-10 on passing attempts including the 32-yard score to Malik Heath. Finally, Leach’s offense had some rhythm.
Not so much. The Bulldogs’ defense gave Rogers the ball back after a three-and-out with 2:20 left and all the offense could do with it was put up 14 yards on 5 plays.
It was another showcase of ineptitude by State and Leach. The Aggies came into the game giving up 299 yards per game through the air. Mississippi State finished with 217 total yards including minus-2 total yards rushing.
Sure, the Bulldogs were missing a key piece in running back Kylin Hill, who was ruled out before the game with an injury. But this Air Raid attack was miserable once again. Costello, who started out looking like Joe Montana against LSU, has played himself out of a starting job.
This feels like a repeat of the past two weeks because … well … that is exactly what it is. Opposing defenses, whether it be Arkansas, Kentucky or the Aggies, have quickly figured out the game plan and are not afraid of State running the ball. Leach, for all of his mastery of the offense, hasn’t given in either and still lives and dies by the pass. The SEC is loudly sending him a message: No matter how good you think your passing offense is, you are going to have to run the ball in this league, buddy.
Yet the biggest question or Leach and the Bulldogs will be where they go at quarterback. Will Rogers get the starting nod after another awful outing by Costello? Will Leach stay loyal to his graduate transfer from Stanford who put up big numbers in a game against LSU that feels like it was played three months, not three weeks ago?
The Mississippi State defense deserved better than what the offense produced on the field on Saturday. When was the last time you could say that about a team led by Leach?