A month ago when discussing the Mississippi State-Alabama matchup, talk was of Mike Leach’s high-octane Air Raid attack going up against the Crimson Tide’s defense and what sort of game plan Nick Saban would have ready to defend it.

Now, we don’t even know who will be the Bulldogs’ starting quarterback Saturday.

Will it be KJ Costello, who quickly went from record-breaker to a major liability, or freshman Will Rogers who, in relief, hasn’t fared any better? While it depends on whether Leach thinks this is a salvageable season, the clear answer is that it should be Rogers.

Costello had his moment against LSU but since has been a turnover machine, throwing 8 interceptions to just 1 touchdown in the past 3 games, 2 of which he got the hook. The “could he win the Heisman” has turned into “will he last the season” and, after last week’s performance against Texas A&M where he could just muster 99 passing yards on 15-of-22 attempts, it’s time for the graduate transfer from Stanford to step aside.

Admittedly, if you make the switch now, you are throwing a true freshman with 33 career pass attempts up against one of the best defensive minds in college football history, but it’s not as if this 2020 Alabama defense has been solid against the pass. In a stat that certainly has Saban and all of the coaching staff up at night, the Tide are 80th in the FBS in passing defense, allowing 279.8 yards per game through the air.

If Rogers is the future of Leach’s offense in Starkville, it needs to start right now. Give the freshman from Brandon, Miss., the reps he desperately needs. Opposing defenses have turned the tables on Leach since the first game, putting 8 men in coverage. Costello, for all the yards he put up, constantly forced the ball into coverage and, often, into the hands of the opposition. Rogers might do the same but, as a coach, you can use those as teaching moments with a freshman, not so much a graduate transfer. Even if both are new to the system.

That’s the nice way of saying Costello is who he is and, 4 years in, that isn’t going to change. There were questions during the preseason about how well he would fit into an Air Raid attack, anyway.

Rogers is a project and with 2 Mississippi State quarterbacks entering the transfer portal, has a chance to prove that he is the right man for Leach’s offense. Throw him into the fire and let him learn on the job. No matter how many reps he gets in practice, none will be as valuable as real game action.

Leach always finds his man and it comes in different ways. One graduate transfer — Gardner Minshew — worked perfectly for him during the 2018 season at Washington State. The man Minshew replaced, Luke Falk, arrived at Wazzu as a walk-on and went on to break Pac-12 records.

Rogers, a 3-star recruit, has the pedigree to become the next good quarterback under Leach. It is now time to see what he and the Bulldogs can accomplish with him as the starter.