Mike Leach Previews Alabama, Reveals Former Crimson Tide WR Tyrell Shavers No Longer With Bulldogs

Tyler Martin

Life in the Southeastern Conference is rough and first-year Mississippi State University coach Mike Leach is finding that out the hard way. 

Just rewind to the opening weekend of the season, when his Bulldogs defeated LSU, 44-34, and his Air Raid-offense lit up the Tigers defense for over 600 yards through the air. 

Now, the team is 1-3 with three straight losses to Arkansas, Kentucky, and Texas A&M, and he has seen at least seven players leave the program days before a matchup with Alabama, including former Crimson Tide wide receiver Tyrell Shavers who transferred to Starkville back in June. 

Shavers hauled in nine passes for 107 yards and one touchdown in four games with the Bulldogs.

"They are not with the program and we wish them the best," Leach said during the weekly SEC coaches teleconference on Wednesday. "They are entering another chapter of their life and so are we.

"I'd be surprised if we don't lose more [players]. If you're stunned or nervous, you better brace yourself because we might lose more."

Mississippi State will also be without its star running back Kylin Hill, who finished No. 2 in the SEC in rushing last season, when it travels to Tuscaloosa this weekend. 

"I haven't talked to Kylin," Leach said. "But I heard he was opting out and preparing for the NFL ... We want to focus on the guys we have on the team." 

Meanwhile, the Bulldogs are in the midst of a mid-season quarterback battle between Will Rogers and Stanford transfer KJ Costello, who had that spectacular debut against the Tigers, but has thrown 10 interceptions on the year. 

"They are both playing very well," Leach said. "It's very competitive out there."

While this is the first time Leach and Alabama coach Nick Saban are squaring off as head coaches, it isn't the first time the Pirate has faced the Crimson Tide. 

Leach was the offense coordinator with Kentucky when the Wildcats defeated Alabama in overtime, 40-34, back in 1997. 

"It was a wild game,' Leach said of what he remembers from that contest. "If I remember correctly, that was the first time Kentucky had beaten Alabama in over 75 years."

In regards to this year's version of Alabama, Leach has been quite impressed.

"They play together really well and they play really hard," Leach said. "I mean, everybody has heard about their players for quite some time and I think they play hard together. They are a good team." 

Leach also went on to comment about his relationship with Saban over the years.

"I do not know him real well, but I have known him some," Leach said. "He is very committed to coaching. In coaching there's a term called sweater-wearer. He's not one of those sweater-wearers. They wanna wear the sweater, but they're not really up to their neck in it. But man, Coach Saban is a guy that it's all football all the time. Very committed and I think that's a great example to everybody."

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