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Mike Leach’s postgame quotes following 24-10 loss to Auburn

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“I’ve seen steady improvement. Actually, improvement that I’ve been quite proud of these guys for. I was proud of how hard they played today.”

NCAA Football: Auburn at Mississippi State Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports

STARKVILLE, Miss. — Mississippi State head football coach Mike Leach met with the media following Saturday’s 24-10 loss to Auburn.

In the last two games, the Mississippi State offense produced 479 yards against Ole Miss and 358 against Georgia. On Saturday, the Bulldogs took a step back and totaled just 240 yards of offense. Leach was asked what he saw from the offensive group.

“Well, I thought Auburn has a good defense, and they have most of the year. I thought we missed some opportunities. I thought that we had some self-inflicted wounds,” Leach said. “It’s almost like the worst thing happened at the worst time type of things. We’d move the ball, have a guy wide open and then all of a sudden not protect. Or we’d protect pretty well and guys would get jammed at the line of scrimmage. I’m sure Will [Rogers] has a couple throws that he’d like to have over again. Some of those were a combination of protection and routes clearing and things like that. We just have to fight through it and improve as a team.”

There was a scary moment in the fourth quarter when senior defensive lineman Marquiss Spencer was taken off the field on a stretcher. Leach said Spencer is “moving around” and “looks very positive at the hospital.”

Entering the game, Rogers had thrown 167 consecutive passes without an interception, which was the second-longest streak in the Southeastern Conference and sixth-longest in the FBS. His 12th pass of the game was intercepted. He threw one more in the game, too. Leach was asked what he saw and what it was that he told Rogers on the sideline.

“He was pressured on both of them. One, he flat out forced. He should’ve thrown it out of bounds,” Leach said. “The other one, he got hit as he was throwing it, and then there were defenders there because at the outside receiver position, we didn’t clear them out of there. We got jammed and then jogged on our routes.”

Leach was then asked about his overall thoughts on the future of this offense.

“I’ve seen steady improvement. Actually, improvement that I’ve been quite proud of these guys for. I was proud of how hard they played today,” Leach said. “We have a lot of youth out there. I think they’re improving, and they continue to get better.”

The Bulldogs defense has been solid for most of the year. Leach was asked what defensive coordinator Zach Arnett has meant to this defense.

“I think he’s done a tremendous job. Our defense continues to grow as well. I think both sides of the ball for us towards the end got fatigue because we’re playing with not too many guys,” Leach said. “As a result, we don’t have quite the depth we’d like. I thought they played extremely hard. Zach [Arnett] gets a great deal out of them and brings a lot of intensity, and I think the players thrive on that.”