STARKVILLE, Miss. — Mississippi State head football coach Mike Leach met with the media Monday to discuss Saturday’s regular-season finale against the Missouri Tigers. The game is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. CT and will air on SEC Network Alternate.
Leach began the press conference by giving an update on senior defensive lineman Marquiss Spencer, who was hospitalized after injuring his head/neck against Auburn.
“They are still observing him, you know, just as precautionary. He appears to be OK,” Leach said. “They’re going to see if anything further needs to be done. It’s promising right now.”
Leach was then asked about the challenge of preparing for a Southeastern Conference opponent and closing out a recruiting class.
“Well, it is challenging. Everybody will stay up late and watch film while they’re making phone calls, which we did most of the night last night. So far, it’s been very positive, but yeah, we just have to commingle it and do it both at the same time,” Leach said. “Sometimes it’s somewhat like that as you’re going into a bowl. It is unique. It’s definitely a unique situation. You just multitask your way through it.”
Leach then talked about the recruiting efforts in the final days.
“I think good. We’ll see what happens, but I think good. The exciting thing about this is you kind of get a glimpse of putting together your team in the future. It’s definitely exciting,” Leach said. “You know, you sit there, both your imagination goes wild on how great somebody’s going to be. Then you say, ‘Well, gee maybe we could have got this guy or that guy on occasion.’ Generally, not with this class. It’s always amazing. I was thinking about that driving in today, you know, some of the classes I’ve had over the years. I’ve got a couple of those guys that are worth a couple billion dollars. A couple, of course, went on to the NFL. They do all kinds of things. I have some doctors, some lawyers and everything in between. It’s kind of interesting because you think back to when you were at their house, that signing day or when you were at some high school and where they are now. It really is kind of exciting from that standpoint.”
Mississippi State receiver Jaden Walley leads the team with 562 yards receiving on 43 receptions, and he’s just a freshman. Leach was asked if he realized how big of a role Walley was going to play this year.
“I hoped. I didn’t know. He’s a guy that wants the ball all of the time. He doesn’t play perfect, but he plays full-steam, and he plays aggressive. He wants the ball. Then he’s fearless,” Leach said. “You’ve got a freshman out there that’s trying to run through every senior he can find on the opponent’s defense. He’s not afraid of anybody, and then he’s explosive besides. I think his future’s exciting too. He’s got to stay hungry.”
He then gave his thoughts on Missouri as a team.
“I think they’re good, both sides of the ball. They’re aggressive on both sides of the ball. They have kind of an aggressive run game on offense,” Leach said. “You know, defense they put a heavy front up there the whole time. They like to play man coverage and try to be physical about it. It’s not a situation where they’re trying to fool you. They’re pretty aggressive, and they’re right out there and in your face.”
The highlight of the press conference was when Leach went on a long rant about the 2020 college football season.
“I think the thing that’s a drag and that’s a drain is the stop and start. OK, these guys are playing, these guys aren’t. You’re going to play. You’re going to play. Oops, no. Now you’re not going to play.
“OK, we’re not playing them this year. Oh well, no we’re going to play them in two weeks instead. OK, the season ends now. No, it doesn’t, it ends now.
“OK, recruiting what can you do? Well, you can do this. You can’t do that. Well, you can do this instead. Well, you can do that, but not this. OK are we going to go ahead and have signing day when it is? Yes, we are. Well, maybe we’re not. Well, we probably are. Yes, we are.
“OK, are we practicing today? Oh, I don’t know. OK, so this many guys were positive. OK, who were the contact tracers? We’ve got to try and track that down. OK well, how many offensive linemen do we have? Who’s going to play guard? Okay now, do we have enough corners? Well, I don’t know. Well, this guy, he played a little corner in high school.
“OK, what time does this start? Well, I don’t know they’re going to change that. Now there’s a procedure for this. We’re going to test this many times a week. No, it’s going to be that many. So, contact tracers are out this long? OK, no they’re out that long. OK, what constitutes a contact tracer? And then, in the back of that you’re wondering, OK, the NFL does it one way. We do it another.
“You know, it’s just the stop and start and just the incessant change and adjustment. You guys are dealing with it yourself. I mean I see ya’ll sitting in these rooms and some of you look a little more cheerful than others. Some tried to look cheerful but you’re kind of gloomy because you’re stuck in there.
“We’re sitting here, you know, doing it like this and pretending it’s all for real. This is just like a regular press conference. This is such a brilliant idea. Let’s do it like this all the time. I mean everybody’s been through this. Determination, yeah, we’ve got some problems we have to deal with.
“Any time you get committees involved in something it’s going to be convoluted and twisted up. Then the politicians are trying to beat their chests and maximize on this at every step. In the end together with all the commotion and clutter, we’ve created one of the most joyless seasons on earth. Hopefully, we have the presence of mind to not repeat it this way again. Other than that, it’s been great.”