STARKVILLE, Miss. — Mississippi State football will be on the road this week for a tough contest against the No. 2 Alabama Crimson Tide on Saturday inside Bryant-Denny Stadium. The game is set for 6 p.m. CT and will be televised by ESPN. Head coach Mike Leach met with the media Monday afternoon to preview the Halloween contest.
Mississippi State senior running back Kylin Hill gashed LSU for 192 yards and a touchdown in the season opener. Since then, he hasn’t produced much. He was unavailable in State’s last game against Texas A&M, and he is currently not with the team as he tends to personal matters. If you were expecting a more elaborate explanation from Leach this week, you’ll be disappointed.
“No update. He’s still unavailable,” Leach said.
One of the biggest question marks heading into last week’s open week was the quarterback situation for MSU. And just like Hill, we don’t have a clear answer as of Monday. Graduate transfer K.J. Costello and freshman Will Rogers remain in a battle for the starting quarterback job. Rogers has replaced Costello in the second half of the last two games because Costello has struggled with turnovers. He has thrown 10 interceptions and has lost two fumbles.
“I think they’re neck and neck,” Leach said. “We’ll continue to split the reps this week for the first couple of practices.”
The Bulldogs have a third quarterback in redshirt sophomore Jalen Mayden, but Leach says that right now the battle is between Costello and Rogers.
As for how Leach and the team spent the open week, fundamentals were the focus.
“We’re young enough, it was fundamentals. It was fundamentals and then more fundamentals,” Leach said. “We had some good, hard practices. We did some good on good, which I thought was beneficial to us. It was very competitive. I did see progress. I did appreciate the effort our guys gave. I think we’re still a work in progress. We’ve got to just keep taking steps and improving.”
In their last game, the Bulldogs faced Texas A&M senior quarterback Kellen Mond, who was coming off a game where he was named Southeastern Conference Offensive Player of the Week. This week, they’ll be facing Alabama redshirt junior quarterback Mac Jones. In his last game, Jones completed 25 of 31 passes for 387 yards in a 48-17 win over Tennessee. He earned SEC Offensive Player of the Week honors for his performance.
So the question is, how does Mississippi State contain Jones?
“Everything I’ve seen on the tape impresses me,” Leach said. “You just have to play real sound, just play real sound. That’s the biggest thing. You’ve got to worry about yourself, play sound and have all the gaps and spaces filled.”