STARKVILLE, Miss. — Mississippi State head football coach Mike Leach held his weekly press conference on Monday to preview MSU’s away game at No. 13 Georgia inside Sanford Stadium on Saturday. The game is scheduled to kick off at 6:30 p.m. CT.
There has been speculation that State could play No. 23 Auburn if Georgia did not have enough players to meet the Southeastern Conference’s 53-player threshold required to play a game.
“We’re prepared to play against Georgia,” Leach said. “That’s what we’ve heard predominantly. There are rumors swirling and things like that. If any of them happen to be true, you guys might actually know before I do. And if you do, I’d appreciate if you’d alert me immediately. Then I could prepare accordingly.”
Leach says Georgia is “big, physical and then they play with a certain amount of passion [and] aggression.”
Leach was asked how feasible it would be to get ready for a different opponent should it change.
“It’d be an unmitigated, torturous nuisance. What was it? Cal and UCLA got 36 hours’ notice or something crazy. It would be very difficult,” Leach said. “I’ve been up all night watching film and taking notes and writing stuff down. I’ll be at it tonight to try to pinpoint things a little bit. All of a sudden for them to change now, it’d be pretty tough.”
MSU’s game against Auburn was postponed last week because the Bulldogs did not have enough available players to meet the SEC’s threshold of 53 scholarship players due to positive COVID-19 tests and injuries. It was asked if State would have enough players to play this week.
“I hope so,” Leach said. “I don’t have a crystal ball on this and some of these cats’ science is different. Everybody follows the science but none of the science is congruent. It all contradicts one another. So I’ll just follow their process and go the direction they point me.”
Staying focused has been something that all teams have to work through during the COVID-19 era. Leach says having practices have been pleasant releases for Mississippi State players.
“Well, the distractions have been very frustrating. I think they have been for everybody, fans and everybody,” Leach said. “We try to just lock into practice. To be perfectly honest, I think practice has been one of the most pleasant releases our players have had. I’m sure that’s probably the case around the country. Practice is that one portion where you get to get away from things and just lock into your teammates and go out and try to improve. I think that practice has actually been kind of a relief in a lot of instances this year.”
Leach did note that practices have been difficult with so many players being out, though.
“It’s impossible to get the same amount of work. I mean, there’s a big difference practicing with a full load of players than a handful,” Leach said. “You try to get reps, though. Then you just have to limit it. If you’re short a few positions, then it kind of limits what others can do with regard to a team setting. You try to get in what you can.”
Junior Safety Marcus Murphy announced last week that he is opting out of the remainder of the season. Leach was asked if he expects to have him back next year or if he is expected to go to the NFL.
“No, I don’t know what exactly he’ll do,” Leach said. “You know, he’s dealing with some family issues. I know that portion of it. The NFL, you’d have to ask the NFL people. I would doubt that.”