STARKVILLE, Miss. — Mississippi State head football coach Mike Leach held his weekly postgame press conference following Saturday’s 51-32 win over the Missouri Tigers.
Leach was first asked about the team’s performance and how much of it was a culmination of what he has wanted to do as a team in a complete 60 minutes.
“I thought we’ve had it in us, but as far as getting everything congruent, that’s been the challenge. And it was a challenge tonight too, because, again, we had a skeleton crew out there,” Leach said. “But I was very proud of how hard they played. I thought we executed well. We also had some world-class bonehead football on all three sides of the ball, but I would have to say the thing that I was most impressed with [was that] I thought we competed hard throughout. If you compete hard, you can overcome some of the bonehead stuff and then some of the basic execution stuff becomes more explosive.”
Leach was then asked what a win like this does for his team.
“Our team’s been excited to play from the beginning. There’s probably some confidence to be drawn from that, certainly from the film because there were some very good plays in this game. [There were] some competitive plays where guys just played really hard. I felt like our guys did play like they wanted to play more,” Leach said. “I think part of it is just the whole execution, getting used to the guy next to you. It’s been a gradual process, and we’re certainly not there yet. You saw some of the plays I saw out there in the negative. No, we’re not there yet. We took a step today.”
In the win, Mississippi State produced a season-high 151 yards rushing. It marks the first time the Bulldogs reached the century mark all season.
“I thought we played better on the offensive line, and I thought our backs did a better job reading the holes and things like that,” Leah said. “I also think that some of the balls we threw early probably opened some things up for us.”
Freshmen running backs Jo’quavious Marks and Dillon Johnson rushed for 70 and 40 yards, respectively. Leach says they have been getting more comfortable with his system.
“I think they’ve gotten better at seeing the grass. They’re starting to get into a bit of a rhythm,” Leach said. “A really good running back always kind of has a rhythm about him. [He] lines up and explodes out of his stance, and [is] comfortable enough to hit the hole hard. I think we’re getting better at that.”
The Bulldogs will now await their 2020 postseason fate. Bowl game matchups will be officially announced Sunday. Leach isn’t worried about players opting out of a bowl game.
“Football is always exciting to play. I’d like to think that’s why everyone signed up in the first place,” Leach said. “I’m not too concerned about it. We would be really excited to go to a bowl game.”
As crazy as it sounds, Leach and the Bulldogs were able to make it through a full 10-game Southeastern Conference schedule during a global pandemic. Leach was asked if he is surprised that he was able to get through it.
“I’m really proud of the guys. For about five weeks, we’ve been under the threshold there. I think that is definitely impressive,” Leach said. “They are young enough that if we can keep getting better together, then one day some of these guys may be dangerous. I hope that is the case, so we will see what happens.”