By Myra Bean
While Mississippi State football (1-2) was dealing with a record six turnovers in the loss against Kentucky last week, No. 11 Texas A&M Aggies were celebrating a last second win over then No. 5 Florida.
The Bulldogs are still setting new records on offense and defense but last week was shut out offensively and only scored a safety on defense to avoid a total shut out.
The game will be televised on ESPN at 3 p.m. CT from Davis Wade Stadium in Starkville.
As people around the league were as surprised to see the Bulldogs lack of offensive production last week, they were just as surprised to see Aggie quarterback Kellen Mond stage the game he did against Florida. Mond was 25 of 35 for 338 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions.
Texas had 543 total yards of offense against Florida.
The Aggie offensive line returned four of five starters from last year allowing Mond a “calm pocket presence getting rid of the football” said ESPN analyst Gene Chizik.
The Bulldogs have amassed 1,211 passing yards this season so far which marks the fewest games needed to reach 1,000 yards in school history.
Senior quarterback K. J. Costello completed 36 of 55 passes for 232 yards and four interceptions. True freshman Will Rogers completed 9 of 15 passes for 43 yards and two interceptions. Kentucky turned two of the interceptions into touchdowns.
Putting last week behind them, Bulldog head coach Mike Leach said in his pregame conference that every position is up for competition on the team because they need to get the most cohesive group.
When asked what Costello needed to improve on, Leach said he needs to take care of the football better.
However, Leach went on to say the team is not protecting well. “I don’t think we’re catching very well or running routes very well,” Leach said. “We have the ability to do it because we’ve seen them do it.”
This season 19 student-athletes have made their debut with Mississippi State. The newcomers have accounted for 31 percent of the all-purpose yards. Defensively, they combined for 19 total tackles, 2.5 sacks and one interception.
Leach said some of them have stage fright. Another point Leach said is he has some fence riders who are trying to decide whether to commit. “Any time there is a transition, there’s a number of guys – and I’ve been in a number of these transitions – who are going to do the wait and see thing. Well, that’s too bad. The train rolls on. They need to jump on board pretty quickly or the train’s going to roll on without them,” he said.
As much as Costello is given the blame for last week’s game by fans, Leach places the blame on the whole team and the coaching staff. He said going forward the coaches have to detail as hard as they can. “Coach detail, reinforce detail, insist on detail,” he said.