Will Rogers running out of records to break at Mississippi State
Will Rogers is quickly running out of records to break.
He broke Dak Prescott’s single-season records for passing yards and passing touchdowns at Mississippi State last season — his 1st season as a full-time starter.
Last Saturday, he broke former Georgia star Aaron Murray’s SEC career record for completions. In his 28th game. (Murray needed 52.)
Pretty soon, probably as soon as Saturday’s game at Kentucky, Rogers is going to break Prescott’s school record for touchdown passes (70). He needs 2. Only 5 times in the past 19 games has Rogers thrown for fewer than 2 touchdowns.
It’s just a matter of time before he moves from his current 3rd-place position to surpass Nick Fitzgerald’s school records for total offense (9,814 yards) and touchdowns accounted for (101).
Rogers needs 1,191 yards and 32 touchdowns to pass Fitzgerald, and he has 2 years of eligibility remaining after this season. It’s hard to imagine just how high Rogers is going to set the bar once he’s done extending his boatload of record numbers.
The quarterback said it was “pretty cool” for his latest record-breaking achievement to happen at Davis Wade Stadium, during the 40-17 win over Arkansas, because the native of Brandon, Miss., has been “watching games (there) since I was in 2nd grade.”
He’s all but certain to break Prescott’s touchdown mark away from home, because if he doesn’t get the 2 touchdowns he needs against Kentucky, the Bulldogs’ next game also is on the road — against Alabama on Oct. 22.
Rogers’ combination of decision-making ability, accuracy and arm strength is a perfect fit for head coach Mike Leach’s Air Raid offense. Rogers took over from KJ Costello as the starter midway through Leach’s 1st season in 2020.
After Rogers completed 31 of 48 passes for 395 yards with 3 touchdowns (and 0 interceptions) — relatively modest numbers for him — against Arkansas, Leach was asked if his quarterback should be a contender for the Heisman Trophy.
“I don’t think there’s any question whatsoever,” Leach said. “I’m extremely curious who somebody thinks is ahead of him.”
Who knows what Heisman voters are thinking, and there’s still a lot of football to be played before votes are cast. State just hit the halfway point of the season.
But here’s 1 comparison that might be instructive:
Three years ago, LSU’s Joe Burrow won the Heisman by a record margin after having one of the most productive seasons that any college quarterback has had.
Here’s how the 1st half of Rogers’ 2022 season matches up with the 1st half of Burrow’s 2019 season:
Burrow passed for 2,157 yards; Rogers has passed for 2,110 yards;
Burrow had 25 touchdowns and 3 interceptions; Rogers has 22 touchdowns and 3 interceptions;
Burrow completed 79.6 percent of his passes; Rogers has completed 71.6 percent of his passes.
Rogers has thrown nearly 100 more passes than Burrow had thrown (282-186), and as a result he has 54 more completions (202-148).
That provides a bit of ammunition to anyone looking to downplay Rogers’ accomplishments as coming from “a system quarterback,” something Leach quickly dismisses.
According to State’s website, Leach addressed that topic on his radio show last week.
“That usually comes from somebody who’s a little jealous of his numbers,” Leach said. “If you add up the touchdowns, they count the same. If you add up the yards, they count the same.”
Rogers generally has downplayed his individual success. He called it “a blessing” to have the opportunity he has with Leach and his teammates.
Leach gave Rogers credit for not just operating the offense, but for being “a guy that elevates even the other sides of the ball.”
The Bulldogs have won 3 in a row, and they’re 5-1 overall and 2-1 in the SEC. They have climbed to No. 16 in the AP poll after being unranked until beating Texas A&M 2 weeks ago.
The recent surge continues a trend of steady improvement by State ever since Rogers became a starter.
The Bulldogs were 1-4 in games that Rogers didn’t start and 3-3 in games he did start as a freshman. They were 6-7 with Rogers at the helm last year, and each of their victories this season has come by at least 18 points.
Rogers added that “with team success, individual success will come.”
In this case, Rogers’ individual success is leading to team success.