Leach East Tennessee media Q and A
Mississippi State head coach Mike Leach addressed the media prior to Mississippi State’s game with to East Tennessee State:
Question: After watching tape, anything stand out to you from the Georgia game?
Leach: Not really. I thought it was a hard, contested game. Both sides played hard. Just erratic stuff, big plays was when we got hurt. It really wasn’t that far off as far as the score. It’s about five plays away really. There are a number of ways we could have scored two more touchdowns, and given up two less.
Question: How do you approach playing two games in 10 days?
Leach: You do a little of both. You’ve been watching it all year long, with the other teams you play. So, you see Ole Miss anyway. You they play in common. Other than a team or two from the East, you could stick them at the end. We watched a lot of film on them.
Question: It’s been shared you wanted to play ETSU at 11 to get it done. Any truth to that?
Leach: That would have been falsely shared. I think they play just as well at night as they do during the day. Our fans might enjoy it more then. Regardless, when we have games it’s a good time to play them.
Question: How do you keep your guys locked in on ETSU?
Leach: You try to do what you should have been doing the whole time. Improve yourself. Be the best player you can be. That’s what you have control over. It’s important to know what the other guy is going to do, but you have no control over what he does.
Question: What can you do from the sidelines to relieve some of the offensive struggles?
Leach: We’ve played some really good opponents. I think that makes it challenging. I think the better we protect, the better we play. Everybody getting on the same page from an execution standpoint is big. I’m looking for some receivers who really want the ball, ones who are determined to have the ball every play. Right now, we have a group of nice guys who like each other, like the ball, like the social activities. We want guys who want the ball because they think they’re better with it than the other guys.
Question: What have you thought of Massimo and the kicking game?
Leach: I think it’s improved.
Question: How do you adjust your practice schedule leading into next week?
Leach: You lighten it up. You try to get some work in, both mental and physical. But you’ve got to lighten it up.
Question: What do you think of Rufus leading you in receptions now?
Leach: I think he’s steadily emerged as a player. He’s continued to get better. We have a whole bunch cluttered there together. He could certainly have more than that too. If guys would separate themselves, we’d throw it more to them. All of a sudden you’re clearly better than the guy sitting next to you. He can sit and watch you catch the ball more. Either that or give us reasons to throw it to them more.
Question: What’s the middle ground where your guys give up fewer big plays?
Leach: We’ve got to get that. We do a good job running to the ball, getting turnovers, and affecting the quarterback recently, but we leave some stuff there, too much space.
Question: When you win the opening coin toss, why do you always take the ball?
Leach: Not much (decision making there). We usually just receive it. If the other guy wins it, they usually give it to you. I figured we’d make it a little more routine.
Question: When you think back to August, are you surprised no one has stepped forward?
Leach: Not a lot. They all do some good things. We need that competitive guy who is determined to be the best one. We’re still searching for that guy. We’re looking for the guy that wants it and doesn’t want to give it back.
Question: What impresses you about ETSU?
Leach: They play together, their overall enthusiasm. They’re excited to go out there and compete. Kind of like we are.
Question: How did you get into coaching and why football?
Leach: Everybody ought to go buy the book Swing Your Sword. It’s getting toward the holidays so buy 10 copies and give them to family and friends. They make tremendous gifts and stocking stuffers. (then goes through a range of years with football)
Question: Who do you think the best receiver you’ve ever had?
Leach: I’ve had a bunch, some great ones. I’ve had some good ones at nearly every stop. (then goes through receivers at Texas Tech and Washington State)
Question: What makes Forbes so good?
Leach: He’s passionate about football. He thinks about football when nobody is. Forbes is also a smart guy. He picks up little nuances that allows him to get a head start. He’s got a really quick first step. He needs to gain weight. But he does trigger to the ball and plays with a certain amount of power for his size. He’s a fearless guy. And a very competitive guy. We need more guys like him.