Leach and Mississippi State take on Texas Tech at Liberty Bowl | Ap thread
While Mike Leach has certainly revamped Mississippi state’s football schedule in two short seasons, some of his fingerprints remain on Texas Tech for years after being fired by the Red Raiders.
Leach will have his first chance to face one of his old schedules and coach a former player on Tuesday when the teams meet at the Liberty Bowl.
The game is personal for Leach for other reasons as well. He hasn’t forgotten the end of his tenure at Texas Tech or the money he thinks he still owes him.
“We should settle this matter,” Leach said Monday. âThey should pay me. And, you know, we should all celebrate the accomplishments together. But that doesn’t seem like, you know, what they have in mind.
Leach not only remains the most successful coach in Texas Tech history with 84 wins between 2000-2009, Red Raiders interim head coach Sonny Cumbie played for Leach between 2002-2004. There is still an ongoing dispute over Leach’s departure when he was sacked in late 2009 after a 9-4 season.
âThey stole $ 2.6 million from me plus four years left on my contract, and I think settling for $ 2.6 million is very generous of me,â Leach said.
Mississippi State (7-5) handled Leach’s air raid system much better in Coach’s second season. Second-year quarterback Will Rogers places the Bulldogs third nationally with an average of 385.7 passing yards and 30.9 points per game.
A win will ensure the Bulldogs’ best result since winning eight games in 2018 after ending the regular season with a 31-21 loss to No. 8 Ole Miss.
Cumbie went on to Texas Tech as a player for Leach, which later awarded him a scholarship. Leach also gave Cumbie a job as a graduate assistant. Cumbie has said he has a lot of respect for his former coach and boss, but neither will play.
It’s been a tough season for Texas Tech. Cumbie is 1-3 since replacing Matt Wells who was fired on October 15. He leaves to train Louisiana Tech with Joey McGuire already hired to take over the program after this bowl, sponsored by AutoZone.
Cumbie’s goal is to finish this job and help the Red Raiders have some fun. Texas Tech just lost 27-24 to No. 9 Baylor.
âIt’s just not a football game,â Cumbie said. âIt’s a 13th game our guys deserve.
THE ROGERS SEASON
The Bulldogs quarterback threw for 300 yards in 10 straight games. He leads the Southeastern Conference and ranks second nationally with an academic record of 4,449 passing yards as the eighth SEC quarterback to reach the 4,000 yard mark in one season.
Rogers led the SEC in the league with 324 assists, 74.7% of his passes and an average of 372.1 yards per game. He was second with 2,977 total yards and 22 touchdowns. He’s the 10th different quarterback Leach coached at the 4,000-yard mark.
It won’t be easy to grab a Texas Tech running back. The Red Raiders have three different full-backs who have run at least 300 meters this season. SaRodorick Thompson leads the Red Raiders with nine rushing touchdowns, but Tahj Brooks has six rushing for a record 472 yards this season.
That’s a big reason they average 150.7 rushing yards per game. Texas Tech has currently executed more (392) than they have thrown (362) on offense this season. Still, the Red Raiders are ranked 10th nationally with 22 games of at least 40 yards this season and averaging 30 points per game.
THE DEFENSE OF THE STATE
The Mississippi state defense is ranked 10th nationally and third in the SEC against the rush, allowing just 101.2 yards per game. The Bulldogs held six opponents within 100 rushing yards and allowed just 71 first downs. Since Leach took over, the Bulldogs have allowed just 24 rushing touchdowns.
Texas Tech wide receiver Erik Ezukanma will not play after announcing last week that he is preparing for the NFL draft. It doesn’t help Donovan Smith, the freshman making the fourth start of his career. Smith has played 10 games this season and completes 63.1% of his passes and has six touchdowns with just two interceptions.
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