Kneauxing the Enemy 2020
by Bryan Follins
Mike Leach is the new head coach at Mississippi State. In his 19 years as a head coach he has had 14 winning seasons. His head coaching tenures have taken him to Texas Tech and Washington State. Leach has a 7-8 bowl record.
In 1989 Leach was hired by Hal Mumme as an offensive coordinator at Iowa Wesleyan. He would be Mumme’s offensive coordinator for nine straight years at three different schools. They would be together at Wesleyan from 1989 to 1991, Valdosta State from 1992 to 1996, and at Kentucky for the 1997 to 1998 seasons.
In 1999, Leach was hired by Bob Stoops as the offensive coordinator at Oklahoma. In 1998 Oklahoma’s offense was ranked 11 in the Big 12 Conference. In 1999, the Sooner offense was ranked first in the league.
The next year Leach was hired as head coach at Texas Tech. So, what do Leach’s teams do best? Here is a hint.
When Leach arrived at Texas Tech in 2000 he inserted Kliff Kingsbury as the starting quarterback. In three years, Kingsbury broke NCAA records for completions in a career. B.J. Symons played for one year during the 2003 season at Tech. In one season, Symons threw for 5,833 yards, breaking an NCAA record for single season passing yards.
In 2004, Leach’s Texas Tech squad beat Nebraska 70-10, the most points ever allowed by a Nebraska football team. In 2005, Tech beat Texas A&M 56-17, the worst lost by the Aggies to Tech in a series lasting over 60 years.
After being fired by Texas Tech in 2009, Leach resurfaced as the head coach of Washington State in the 2012 season. Luke Faulk was the quarterback at WSU from 2014 to 2017, starting the entire seasons for the latter three years. Faulk threw for 4561 yards in 2015, 4,468 yards in 2016, and a paltry 3,593 yards for the 2017 campaign. He had a 68.3 completion ratio average in four years at State.
In 2018, Gardner Minshew, as a graduate transfer, in one season, threw for 4,779 yards with a 70 percent completion percentage for the Cougars. He is lately the quarterback with the NFL Jacksonville Jaguars.
Last year, Anthony Gordon, a redshirt senior, in his only season as a full-time starter, threw for 5,579 yards, to lead the FBS. He tossed 48 touchdowns and had a 70 percent completion ratio.
Mike Leach’s offenses are not dull.
Senior Kylin Hill returns at running back for Mississippi state. In 2019 Hill rushed for 1,350 yards. He averaged 5.6 yards per carry. The only other returning starters for the Bulldogs are linemen Greg Eiland and Darean Parker, both seniors, and junior wide receiver Osiris Mitchell.
Senior linebacker Erroll Thompson is one of four starters returning on defense for State. He had 84 tackles during the 2019 season to lead the team.
Leach’s teams have never placed a premium on defense. He hired Zack Arnett, formerly of San Diego State, and supposedly a rising star in the college ranks, to be the defensive coordinator.
However, passing offense is the name of the game for Leach. Even though nothing big is expected of State this season, Leach has a knack for transforming quarterbacks and offenses, and doing it quickly.
Mississippi State’s offense will not look like it did last year, or the year before, or the year before that, or like any other time in the history its football program.