STARKVILLE • Saturday marked the halfway point between the start of fall camp and Mississippi State’s season opener against LSU on Sept. 26.
It also marked the first scrimmage for the football team, and head coach Mike Leach liked what he saw from the Bulldogs, especially the quarterbacks and the offensive line.
In the quarterback situation, KJ Costello and Will Rogers have been receiving the most reps with the starters. When asked about the competition between them and Garrett Shrader and others, Leach said it was still open, but not quite as open as it was.
“I thought KJ had a really good day today,” Leach said. “I thought Will did an admirable job as far as a freshman will go out there in their first scrimmage and flinch a little bit, but he came out of it fast. He did some good things. I thought the others were competitive, they can line up and play to a point. But I thought those two had the best scrimmage.”
Leach also thought the first group of his offensive line played well, outside of a few “traded blows” with the defensive line on key plays and third downs.
That first group consists of players like Greg Eiland, Dareuan Parker, Scott Lashley, Charles Cross, Kwatrivous Johnson, Cole Smith and a select few others.
“I thought the first group did a good job,” Leach said. “I thought it got mixed after that, but we were able to play and it looked like football with three groups. So, we were able to play three full groups, and it did look like football, and I can’t say that it always does. Some of it is ‘how many bodies you’ve got,’ but some of our down the list guys were competitive too.”
The receiving corps didn’t separate too much, and the coaching staff is still looking for a solid eight-receiver rotation. There were a few that played well though, according to Leach.
Austin Williams and Jaden Walley each had a big day at receiver while Lideatrick Griffin and Malik Heath each made a big catch. Leach described Heath’s catch as one that was contested and he fought to take it away.
Time to focus
With one scrimmage under the team’s belt and less than three weeks to go until the Sept. 26 opener at LSU, Leach is hoping to contain practice reps to those who have stood out and will refine the playbook.
“Now you try to channel the reps around the guys that are starting to separate themselves,” Leach said. “That would be the biggest thing. There’s no scheme overhauls, in fact, we’ll probably cut some plays rather than add some plays. We’ll identify what we’re really good at and polish that up.”