Mike Leach faces familiar foe as Mississippi St. visits Arizona
Mike Leach returns to Pac-12 country when Mississippi State travels to play Arizona for the Wildcats’ home opener on Saturday night in Tucson, Ariz.
Leach spent eight seasons as the coach at Washington State before taking over the Bulldogs for the 2020 season. He went 4-2 against Arizona while with the Cougars, with his team scoring 69 points in two of those games.
Mississippi State (1-0) opened the season last Saturday with a 49-23 home victory in a lightning-delayed game against Memphis. Standout quarterback Will Rogers completed 38 of 49 passes for 450 yards and five touchdowns, all to different teammates. The Bulldogs rolled to 34 first downs.
Leach’s Air Raid offense will be a wildly different attack from what the Wildcats (1-0) saw last week in a surprising 38-20 victory against the host San Diego State Aztecs, whose modest passing game was held to 62 yards on 16 attempts.
“Mike Leach is always going to have very good passers,” Arizona head coach Jedd Fisch said. “There’s nothing really surprising in terms of the fact that he’s producing a 400-yard passer. That’s what he does.”
Arizona counters with Jayden de Laura, a Washington State transfer who committed to the Cougars while Leach was there. De Laura was excellent in his Arizona debut last week, completing 22 of 35 passes for 299 yards, with four touchdowns and one interception.
“He’s a very competitive guy and a good player,” Leach said. “He’s got quick feet. The ball comes off his hand quickly, and he’s accurate. He’s definitely a good player. He’s competitive, and he makes that side of the ball for them competitive.”
De Laura and UTEP transfer Jacob Cowing (eight catches, 152 yards, three TDs last week) sparked the offense against San Diego State and provided hope for a big 2022 turnaround. Last season, the Wildcats scored 20-plus points in a game only twice in a 1-11 season.
This is the first meeting between Arizona and Mississippi State. They are scheduled to play next season in Starkville, Miss.
–Field Level Media