Mike Leach on QB ‘hot shots,’ expectations on Mississippi State coaches tour
FLOWOOD — When mike leach takes the stage with a microphone in hand, fans expect him to deliver.
They wait for his one-liners or long stories about whatever comes to mind. So when the alumni gathered in Jackson for the final leg of the Road Dawgs tour on Thursday, they expected Leach to provide entertainment.
“I came here to see you,” a fan told her before the event.
The Mississippi State football coach gave them what they were hoping for.
It started with a question about his Air Raid offense. With so many moving parts – the quarterback is advancing, the offensive line is blocking and wide receivers are creating space – what’s the most important piece?
“The quarterbacks already think they’re good shots, so I don’t have to deal with them so much,” Leach joked, much to the delight of the crowd.
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He then focused on the offensive line and his success as the position’s coach – highlighted by left tackle Charles Cross goes ninth in this year’s NFL Draft. But in Leach’s explanation, the humor didn’t stop.
He talked about the difficulty of specifying an answer because it is difficult to define errors. Often sacks are the result of the offensive line breaking and not giving the quarterback enough time to throw.
But Leach still wants his quarterbacks to shake things up.
“Well, you’re a fellow too, find a place to throw the ball,” Leach says. “Or get the hell out of there.”
This responsibility will probably belong to Will Rogers this season, though Leach hinted at a quarterback “battle” with sophomore Sawyer Robertson working on the depth chart.
Leach discussed the call-to-play dynamic, which he also made simple. It has become standard in college football for teams to have hundreds of plays divided into colorful, elaborate game sheets.
“Some of these guys look like Ralphie’s little brother in ‘The Christmas Story,'” Leach said.
He then explained that he was not just holding a note card in his hand. Instead, it’s a strategically folded piece of Xerox paper so Leach knows where to look in specific situations.
He noted MSU’s three wins against teams that finished in the top 25 last season – the first time that has been accomplished at MSU. Cohen expects the upward trend to continue.
“Don’t you like it when your AD says you’re doing a good job and you’ll be better next year,” Jans asked Leach.
“Yeah, no pressure,” Leach joked. “To be honest, I got to thinking we could have had that other top 25 win. if we had a kicker.”
The crowd responded with laughs not often found in an alumni base discussing a loss to Arkansas football. But Leach’s personality continues to find its place in Mississippi, perhaps providing a role model for new coaches alongside him.
Jans and Purcell were on the summer tour for the first time since being hired in March. Along stops at Olive Branch, Greenwood, Gulfport and Jackson, they flew with Leach and got a personal look at the dynamic football personality.
Leach’s lack of ego scarred Purcell and Jans. Leach’s taste for dressing down — especially in Hawaiian shirts — hasn’t gone unnoticed, either.