FORT WORTH, Texas — Mississippi State head football coach Mike Leach met with the media following Thursday’s 28-26 win over No. 22 Tulsa in the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl.
Leach first talked about MSU’s ability to close out the game.
“It was very good that we were able to hold on and close it out. It was a very nasty day out there with swirling rain all over the place. It was tough for everyone to get into a rhythm,” Leach said. “It was going to take persistence to win this game and I was proud of our young group and the persistence they showed. I wish we finished the game better. The last offensive and defensive series [weren’t] very good. Guys got more caught up being ahead than finishing. It was a gutsy game on a soft mushy surface where the ball bounced funny a number of times. I was proud of our team to win it.”
Leach was then asked about the postgame brawl that took place.
“All of a sudden there was a mosh pit out there. During warmups there was a group of their guys that circled around our warmup and were talking. I really don’t know. I haven’t seen enough film to let us off the hook on this thing by any stretch,” Leach said. “We haven’t had any trouble of that sort of thing all season. We haven’t had any trouble with that. I don’t know if they had or not and I don’t know where the basis of that was.”
Leach said he is unsure if there will be any disciplinary action.
“I have no idea. I don’t know what happened exactly,” Leach said. “There was a mosh pit and there was jawing back and forth. I haven’t seen it. You all probably saw it better than I [did].”
Before the brawl took place, Mississippi State played 60 minutes of solid football and won its 14th bowl game. Leach says what took place after the game didn’t mar anything.
“It didn’t mar anything we did out there whatsoever. It is done,” Leach said. “The root of it is dumb no matter what the root of it was. The continuation of it was dumb. I would have it solidly in the category of dumb. Where the dumb started I am not entirely sure.”
Freshman quarterback Will Rogers connected with freshman wide receiver Lideatrick Griffin on a 13-yard touchdown pass that wound up being the deciding factor. Leach talked about that drive and the success of his young players.
“All of our touchdowns were scored by freshmen I believe. We have some young guys that are enthusiastic and developing into gritty guys,” Leach said. “We have to keep getting them better and can’t be all over the map on finishing games. We can’t be happy like that and dancing and looking at the crowd.”
Mississippi State ended a frustrating season on a two-game winning streak, including Thursday’s win over ranked team. Leach was asked about the big win and the progression of the team.
“We progressed well, but we have a lot of work to do,” Leach said. “As you progress, you find things to work on and we have one of the youngest teams in the country.”