Mike Leach preparing for Arkansas’ offense, not particular QB

By Otis Kirk
on 2022-10-05 12:24 PM

FAYETTEVILLE — No. 23 Mississippi State isn’t sure who will be the quarterback for No. 23 Arkansas on Saturday, but Mike Leach doesn’t seem too concerned about the situation.

Leach talked about Arkansas not knowing yet if KJ Jefferson will be available.

“Well, I think they’ll stick with what they do on offense, at least to a large extent,” Leach said. “And so, you know, you’re still preparing for the same offense.”

On Monday, Leach had said he would try to find out more information on Cade Fortin and Malik Hornsby. But Wednesday he was talking more about the offense than either of those two.

“Good players, but again, in the end, I think they’ll run what they do offensively,” Leach said.

Jefferson was injured in the fourth quarter against Alabama and replaced at the time by Cade Fortin. The USF transfer was 4 of 10 passing for 35 yards and rushed for nine more. Hornsby hasn’t attempted a pass this season.

While Leach is uncertain about the Arkansas quarterbacks, he isn’t that way about linebacker Bumper Pool. The Arkansas standout had 20 tackles in 2020 as the Hogs upset Leach and the Bulldogs 21-14. It was Sam Pittman’s first win as head coach at Arkansas and Leach’s first loss at Mississippi State. Leach and the Bulldogs opened the 2020 season with a 44-34 upset of defending national champion LSU in Baton Rouge. Pool needs 14 tackles to become the all-time tackles leader at Arkansas.

“I think he’s good,” Leach said. “He’s got one of the greatest football names ever, and I think that he’s just kind of, especially for his position. You know, he’s just constantly playing. I mean, he’s not one of those guys that ever takes any plays off. He’s constantly going somewhere trying to get in the action.”

Running back Rocket Sanders leads the SEC in rushing with 105 carries for 609 yards and four touchdowns. He also has caught 10 passes for 136 yards and one touchdown. Leach is impressed with the talented sophomore.

“I think they do some good stuff. I think he’s a good player,” Leach said. “And I think they have a certain amount of misdirection and try to make you guess whether the quarterback is involved.”

As far as Pittman, he came to Arkansas the same year Leach was hired in Starkville, Lane Kiffin at Ole Miss and Eli Drinkwitz at Missouri. Leach talked about Pittman.

“He’s had a great career,” Leach said. “Just a good, hard-nosed football coach. Background wise, we’re both o-line coaches. We both coached o-line for a lot of our careers.”

Arkansas’ secondary has had its issues and is moving players around this week in an effort to upgrade it. One player who has been pretty solid back there is cornerback Dwight McGlothern.

“We’ve just got to have good technique and play the best we can, you know,” Leach said. “Just have good technique, and the most important thing is worry about playing the best that we can play.”

Arkansas and Mississippi State will kickoff at 11 a.m. on Saturday with the game televised on the SEC Network.

(Last updated: 2022-10-05 12:24 PM)