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What Mike Leach and Miss. State Players Said After Alabama Loss

Alabama faced Mississippi State's Air Raid offense for a second time on Saturday night and still hasn't give up a touchdown.

Since 2001, Mississippi State coach Mike Leach has been on the winning side against a team ranked in the top five in the AP Top 25 five times, which is tied for the fourth most among active FBS head coaches during that span. 

Leach owns three victories over ranked opponents in his first 16 games as Mississippi State’s head coach. That’s the most by an MSU head coach through his first 16 games.

Here's what he said after his latest attempt, with No. 5 Alabama visiting Davis Wade Stadium.

Mike Leach 

It seemed like Bryce Young remained composed with whatever pressure you threw at him today. What do you think he did so well to stay that way?
ML: First of all, I think we should have gotten home more. The other thing is that we took a couple of bad angles. He's a quick-footed guy and is good in the pocket. I knew he would get out of some of them, but he shouldn't have gotten out of as many as he did.

Q: It seemed like at times there was miscommunication between Will and his receivers where he would throw long, and it would be incomplete. What did you see there? Was it an option route?
ML: No, it was just horrible miscommunication. That's a nice way of putting things and I'm sure that if you put it that way in your article, they would appreciate it. I can't say that is one hundred percent factually correct. I don't think we communicated on offense or defense, and the crazy thing is, we haven't had a problem with that since the very first part of the season and camp. We didn't even have that problem at Kyle Field, and that's one of the most demanding places on earth communication-wise. We didn't communicate well on either side of the ball in my opinion. It's easy to say that Alabama is really good, and that is true. Everyone recruited those guys nationally, but my problem is we didn't play as well as we can and that has to be solved. That comes back on us coaches, and on the players as well. There's a notion that it is just coaches, and it does come back on us because we've got to find a way to reach them, but also players must be tough enough to be reached. The fact of the matter is that we put these guys up on a pedestal, and they got ratcheted up higher than we could execute. We tried to do special things because we thought they were too good. The trouble is your best is always enough because that's all you've got. Manufacturing new methods and techniques because you're scared is not a good approach.

Q: What did you see from Will tonight? How would you assess his performance?

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ML: I think he tried extremely hard. We all tried extremely hard tonight, but he did to the point where he threw balls out of character and forced some passes. He was trying to make too much happen, and at about that same time some receivers tried to make too much happen as well to the point that they weren't where they were supposed to be.

Q: What was the cause of the pass rushing from Alabama?

ML: I'm going to have to look at it. I don't think we held the ball very much. I'm going to have to say it's a combination of both, cause I did not think he was as precise in his reads as he could have been. I did not think our receivers were consistently where they were supposed to be; they figured, "Oh, Alabama's really good and they're so superior, we'll just go ahead and invent a route," and invent some route known only to them, not a chance in hell we'll find them, but they go ahead and invent it anyway, it's ridiculous. And I thought that Will played into that too. We've got bad communication and we've got self-inflicted wounds because we tried too hard and tried to do extra and tried to do too many different things, and we should've played better than we did.

Q: What steps do you feel like this program needs to take over the next couple of years in order to beat Alabama?
ML: Well, we just have to keep battling. Keep battling, and keep grinding away. Well, in our case, get older; if you've got a time machine laying around, I could use a year. It would almost be worth a year experience-wise, even though.

Q: How much was the team pressing too hard based on the first drive where they threw an interception and came in and scored?
ML: I think that it was a byproduct of that, because it was bad communication and it was forced, but I don't think it was just that. I think that we worked hard, because we had really good practices all week and we were highly motivated. We're a highly motivated team and we'll play hard. But the other thing is, that tipping point is that we're trying to make too much happen. Then as coaches, we have to find a way to keep the high-intensity and motivation, but also the clarity of mind to just do your job, everybody struggles with that. But that doesn't change the fact that we have to find a way to solve that.

Linebacker Jett Johnson 


Q: Did you all blitz more than you have before and how frustrating was it for the blitz to be so close so many times but not get to the quarterback?
JJ: I'm not really sure how much we blitzed. It seemed like a lot. We have got to get home. I feel like we blitzed pretty well. We just got to get home. It is all about (inaudible) getting pressure. We try to emulate that a little bit. We got him a couple of times. Obviously we would like to get home a few more times.

Q: What did Bryce Young do to be so successful tonight?
JJ: He is a great player first and foremost. That is why he is at Alabama. He has got a great support staff around him with his coaches and players. Credit to him. They are a great team. We need to execute a little bit better. Coach Arnett put us in the best position possible I think. We just need to execute a little bit better. Play the next play.

Q: What will you have to do to protect Will Rogers better?
JJ: We are going to have to make adjustments. It hurts. We have to play the next play like coach always says. Have a great prep this week. This game is over, so we have to correct our mistakes.

Linebacker Nathaniel Watson 

It seems like several times, y'all brought the blitz on third down and Bryce Young was able to win those battles and find the guy. How tough was it to defend a player like that defensively?
NW: "He's a good player. You know, we brought pressure. We got him a couple times, but the other times he just got off us. we just got to finish the play like we always preach in practice."

It seemed like they had some success with some comeback routes whenever you guys would bring pressure and go into man coverage. What did you see there, do you think that was a factor and how do you prevent that going forward?"
NW: "We just have to get better, and we weren't expecting most of the comebacks, so we've just got to get lined up and get to the quarterback on the rush."

Coach Leach said that there was miscommunication on both sides of the ball tonight, what do you think factored into I guess just for the defense, the miscommunication issues at times?
NW: "I really just think it was plays that we left out there, you know. Sometimes it was the call, and we messed up the call. We had some busts, so we'll check back in practice."

How tough was it for the first play out of halftime to be a 75-yard touchdown, to just get over that, how difficult was that, when they kind of come out with a punch like that?
NW: "It was pretty difficult, you know, first play out of halftime, big bust. It was a tough play, I think we still held onto it, though."

I know as a competitor, you want to win every game, but you're 3 and 3 now at the midway point of the season, some winnable games ahead, what's kind of the focus of the team right now, and how would you guys say you feel about the second half of the season?
NW: "We just look forward to that game. Just go win next week. Just get back in the lab, you know, work, and improve on our game and look to go 1-0."

Overall, what can you take form this game, and focus on specifically this coming week?
NW: "Oh you know, we just have to finish. We've got to help the offense out a little bit more on our side of the ball."