LEXINGTON, Ky. — Head football coach Mike Leach held a press conference following Saturday’s 24-2 loss to the Kentucky Wildcats.
Leach said he will have to evaluate the roster and possibly “purge” some players who don’t fit with the plan after Saturday’s loss.
“We’re going to have to check some of our group and figure out who really wants to play here,” Leach said. “Because any malcontents, we’re going to have to purge a couple of those.”
The Mississippi State offense compiled 275 yards passing and 20 yards rushing for a total of 295 yards on 84 plays, which is 3 1⁄2 yards per play. Leach believes he knows what went wrong.
“I have a lot of ideas. The biggest one is the University of Kentucky. The second biggest one is that we didn’t play together at all,” Leach said. “You can really say all things. We’ve got to find a way to clean that up. Their three guys up front can beat our five. Our receivers did not consistently catch the ball. We were able to get open, but we didn’t consistently catch the ball. We turned the ball over, which was the byproduct of the quarterback not being in the right place. Long story short, offensively, we aren’t coaching very well right now. I mean, we have to coach better. If you look at this game, nearly every problem that we had was self-inflicted.”
Senior quarterback K.J. Costello finished 36 of 55 passing for 232 yards and four interceptions. Freshman quarterback Will Rogers, who made his debut, finished 9 of 15 passing for 43 yards and two interceptions.
“I think it is a series of over corrections,” Leach said. “I think that you will see [Costello] do some things pretty well. Early in the game, we were getting ready to march down the field and we would drop several balls, we would jump offsides. Because we are not even a team that has been penalized much this year, up until this game. I think he would get frustrated and try to do too much. And then as he tried to do too much, I think it blew up on him several times. He never really got into a rhythm. We didn’t consistently protect him.”
Though the offense had its problems, the Mississippi State defense played impressively well against a Kentucky offense that compiled 408 yards rushing a week ago. The Bulldogs limited Kentucky to just 73 yards passing and 84 yards rushing for 157 yards of total offense. Leach says the defense still has a lot of improving to do, though.
“I thought our defense played extremely hard,” Leach said. “I thought our defense played well enough for us to win the game. I think our defense has a ways to go. They got to get better. If they want to be the best defense in the conference, they got to keep improving.”