STARKVILLE — Following his team’s second scrimmage of the spring Saturday, Mississippi State football coach Mike Leach offered his blunt as usual assessment. As is per the course talking to Leach post practice, he threw some praise, and stressed the need for improvement in other areas.
“I thought it was competitive,” Leach said of Saturday’s scrimmage. “I thought we ran around and we battled. I thought we were sloppy on offense. I thought defense came out with a high level of urgency, which probably any time you play hard it will mask some of the errors you might make. I thought defensively we played harder than offense. I thought offense did some good things. Inconsistent, though.”
The final game-like simulation will be at 11 a.m. Saturday for MSU’s Maroon and White spring football game at Davis Wade Stadium. Attendance policies for the general public have yet to be announced. Funny enough, it will be Leach’s spring game debut, which likely doesn’t have the same luster it would have had it happened in 2020 instead of following his debut season.
In a perfect world, Leach says the format he hopes to use for Saturday’s spring contest is to split the team into two groups. But that will be contingent on the available players on that day.
“If you do that, it limits a little of what you can do,” Leach said. “It makes it competitive. It’s fun. But you have to have the depth to do it. But it is pretty good if you can split the team in half, you know.”
In Saturday’s scrimmage, four MSU quarterbacks, Will Rogers, Chance Lovertich, Jack Abraham and Daniel Greek threw at least one touchdown pass. Rogers figures to be the frontrunner to start Week 1 against Louisiana Tech in September, although he could be challenged by Abraham and incoming four-star recruit Sawyer Robertson. Last season, Rogers completed 69 percent of his passes for 1,976 yards and 11 touchdowns.
“He’s a work in progress,” Leach said of Rogers. “I think they’re all works in progress. I think he does some good things. I didn’t think this was his best work today. But I think that he has been relatively consistent throughout spring.”
Former Starkville High standout Rufus Harvey hauled in two touchdown passes in the scrimmage. After redshirting his freshman year, the former Yellow Jacket is pushing to see the field in his second year.
“Rufus is kind of an uncanny guy,” Leach said. “Rufus is competitive, he’s got some intangibles. And he’s definitely getting better.”
One of the presumed strengths of the 2021 Bulldogs is a secondary that features Emmanuel Forbes, a cornerback that had a breakthrough 2020 freshman season. Forbes’ standout season has translated to the spring, as the defensive standout hauled in an interception in Saturday’s scrimmage.
“I think Forbes is getting better and better,” Leach said. “And I thought what (the defense) did really well is they ran to the ball. That’s the thing. Everybody is trying to make perfect execution on a play. Which you don’t get that very often. But if you run to the ball you solve a lot of problems.”
Senior safety C.J. Morgan is taking advantage of the extra year of eligibility offered to all players by the NCAA last fall and will return for a sixth year with the program.
“Great presence, great leadership, you know, just a natural leader,” Leach said of Morgan. “One of those guys that you kind of don’t want to hurry the thing up. But you look forward to his future. Because I suspect there’s big things ahead of him.”