By Myra Bean
Mississippi State football (1-1) traveled to face the Kentucky Wildcats (0-2) in more SEC action.
Both teams are coming off week two losses. The Bulldogs fell to Arkansas 21-14. Arkansas snapped a 20-game SEC losing streak that dated back to October 2017.
Kentucky fell 42-41 to Ole Miss (1-1) in overtime.
Kentucky will play its second straight home game. Its season opener was a 29-13 loss in Auburn.
Bulldog first year coach Mike Leach is expecting to meet a “gritty” Kentucky team, as he referred to them in his Monday press conference. Leach is a former offensive coordinator for Kentucky.
“It’ll be a good contrast of they want to run the ball and use the clock, and you know we’re going to throw it,” Leach said.
In the game with Ole Miss, Leach said Kentucky played better than the score suggests.
Leach said he gets asked the question a lot about his feelings of returning to his former home. “Not a lot of time to walk down memory lane, but it’ll be good to see Lexington again,” Leach said.
Leach is more concerned about shoring up the Bulldog defense that has been “haunted” with some explosive play points. “We are a work in progress but getting better,” Leach said. “We’ve done some things. We play aggressive. We’re not perfect or precise.”
The team was quite upset after the loss to Arkansas, which was expected, but the coaching staff has been trying different ways to reach the players to evaluate the game and loss and prepare for the next team.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, most SEC teams would have some non-conference games under their belt before the conference season. Now, they started the season playing their fellow members of admittedly one of the toughest conferences in the nation.
Last year, MSU won 28-13 against Kentucky and only played eight total SEC games. The Bulldogs went 3-7 in conference play and there are not many easy games in the SEC.
“I do think we have a group that is quite committed, but we have a lot of guys that haven’t played a great deal,” Leach said.
Quarterback K. J. Costello has been analytical following Saturday’s loss, according to Leach. He said that is what good quarterbacks are like. “The only way you really get to be any good is to have honest evaluation,” he said. “A lot of that’s going to be painful.”
One of the differences in last week’s loss was Costello threw an interception which was returned for a touchdown on the Bulldog’s first possession.
“We didn’t play very complete on offense,” Leach said.
Two players who went out with injuries were Kylin Hill and Will Rodgers who Leach expect to be able to play today.
The game will kick off at 6:30 p.m. CT on the SEC Network.
Note: Myra Bean is an alumna of Mississippi State University and former newspaper sports editor of 20 years. Send MSU news tips and ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Myra Bean