STARKVILLE

Whichever quarterback starts for Mississippi State this week is being set up to fail.

Mississippi State travels to face No. 2-ranked Alabama on Saturday at 6 p.m. Entering that game, head coach Mike Leach said the quarterback battle between graduate transfer KJ Costello and true freshman Will Rogers is still neck-and-neck.

They split reps in practice during the open week, he said, and will continue to do so this week.

This season, Costello has passed for 1,267 yards, six touchdowns and 10 interceptions. Rogers has played limited time and passed for 163 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.

Costello has started all four games, but Rogers has entered each of the last two (Kentucky, Texas A&M) in the second half and played.

If Rogers gets his first start, it will be a tough day against an extremely talented Alabama bunch.

“Well, I’m already concerned with it, so I don’t know if it makes it more concerning,” Leach said of possibly starting Rogers against Alabama. “The biggest thing is, for any quarterback regardless of the stage, just worry about what you can do.”

But like I said, either quarterback is set up for failure.

This is not a winnable game for Mississippi State. Alabama is too good and Mississippi State simply is not that good this year.

It’s possible that one of the two quarterbacks could play well against Alabama. Matt Corral of Ole Miss proved that the Crimson Tide’s defense can be scored against.

But be honest. With the way the last three games have gone for the Bulldogs, I don’t expect any Corral performances. Unless Costello throws six interceptions like Corral did against Arkansas. That’s certainly possible.

QB conundrum

Costello’s job is already being called for. If he starts again and plays bad, nobody will hold back.

That will be four-straight games with a lackluster performance and will likely force Leach’s hand to start Rogers for the rest of the season.

If Rogers starts, that means his first career start will come against the No. 2 team in the nation, on the road, and against one of the best offenses in the country. Alabama will likely take an early lead, and that will force Rogers to throw from behind all night.

You never know how a true freshman will perform under that pressure. If people aren’t happy with either of them after this week, who will they turn to next?

Quick answer: there’s no one left. Both Garrett Shrader and Jalen Mayden have entered the transfer portal in the last seven days and are off the roster.

My solution? Try to take it easy on either quarterback this week. Both will likely play and neither are being put into a situation to succeed.

Dalton Middleton (dalton.middleton@journalinc.com) covers Mississippi State for the Daily Journal. Find more in the Facebook Group “Mississippi State Discussion w/Dalton Middleton.”

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