STARKVILLE • Like many positions this week, Mike Leach said the quarterback competition is wide open heading into Saturday’s game against Texas A&M.
Graduate transfer KJ Costello has started each of the first three games for Mississippi State (1-2), but was replaced momentarily by freshman Will Rogers in the Kentucky loss on Saturday.
Costello threw four interceptions against the Wildcats and has nine in three games. He has completed 115 of 179 passes (66.1%) for 1,168 yards, six touchdowns and nine interceptions.
Rogers was 9 of 15 passing for 43 yards and two interceptions on Saturday in his first appearance.
“We’ll see,” Leach said in response to whether or not Costello will start against Texas A&M. “We are going to have competition at nearly every position out there because we need to get the most cohesive group. I think we need to take care of the football better, for sure.”
The quarterback roster also features sophomore Jaden Mayden. He was the backup for Costello during the first two weeks of the season while Rogers dealt with an undisclosed illness or injury.
Mayden played in three games in 2018 but only accounted for 46 yards. Leach likes having Mayden there as he has the longest tenure on MSU’s roster of all the quarterbacks, but said he remains behind both Costello and Rogers in the competition.
Leach was also asked if sophomore Garrett Shrader would enter back into the competition, and the answer was no. Shrader started four games and appeared in 10 for the Bulldogs last season.
He rushed for 587 yards and six touchdowns and passed for 1,170 yards and eight touchdowns. He was moved to receiver this fall and has one catch for eight yards this year.
“If you keep shuffling the deck, you’re not really going to get anywhere,” Leach said of moving Shrader back. “We’ll see what unfolds but KJ and Will will battle it out this week.”
Leach mentioned on Saturday that he might would purge some of the roster and get rid of the players that didn’t want to play on this team. He said in each transition to a new head coaching job he’s had, he’s had players wait and see if they like what they see and he can’t have those.
He didn’t clarify if any players had been cut or purged since Saturday.
“I think we do have a few fence riders, you know, that are trying to decide if they’re going to commit or not to what everyone is doing here,” Leach said.