Mike Leach (Head Coach)
First year Mississippi State head coach Mike Leach is one the most entertaining coaches in all of college football. He’s been named two-time coach of the year during his career and is the master of the “air raid” offense. He is the winningest coach in Texas Tech program history and set school records for bowl appearances at both Texas Tech (10) and Washington State (6). During 10 of his 18 seasons, Leach’s passing attack led the FBS – six at Texas Tech and four at Washington State. The success of the air raid offense showed as Mississippi State upset former national champion LSU in the season opener. Bulldogs’ quarterback KJ Costello threw for 634 yards against Tigers and that was the SEC’s first introduction to Mike Leach.
KJ Costello (QB, #3)
Missouri redshirt freshman Connor Baselek is finally getting his Mississippi State quarterback KJ Costello is a transplant from Stanford, where he played for the past three years and started 25 games for the Cardinals. He’s missed significant time due to injuries throughout his college career, but has played in five games this season for the Bulldogs. Costello fits in Mike Leach’s offense well because both come from the PAC-12, where throwing the football is the norm. At Stanford, Costello became the ninth quarterback in program history to surpass the 6,000 passing-yard mark. Earlier this season, Costello threw for 623 yards and five touchdowns in Mississippi State’s season-opener win against LSU. Costello didn’t play against Vanderbilt on Nov. 7, so don’t be surprised if backup Will Rogers gets the start.
Osirus Mitchell (WR, #5)
Osirus Mitchell is Mississippi State’s leading receiver with 26 receptions for 336 yards and three touchdowns. He is a big and imposing outside target who is a vertical deep-play threat. He’s been the Bulldogs go-to receiver for the past three seasons. He entered this season with 60 career catches for 908 yards and 10 touchdowns in 35 games played. He’s recorded at least one catch in 25 of his 35 career games. He owns five career games with five-plus receptions. Look for him to be the Bulldogs’ main target against a Georgia secondary that has been attacked twice against two of the best passing attacks in the country.
Martin Emerson (CB, #1)
Mississippi State sophomore cornerback Martin Emerson appeared in all 13 games last season with five starts. This season he’s seen the field a lot more as an emerging starter and has played well for the Bulldogs. He’s not a lockdown corner by any means but is effective when covering receivers downfield. The sophomore has racked up 37 total tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss and three pass break ups this season. If Georgia’s George Pickens is able to play, Emerson will more than likely get the assignment to cover him. Emerson will likely also be opposite of Kearis Jackson some.
Erroll Thompson (LB, #40)
Mississippi State linebacker Erroll Thompson is ranked fifth in the SEC with 60 total tackles. It’s very rare for the Bulldogs’ senior to miss a tackle. He’s made 34 straight starts coming into this game. Thompson entered his senior season with 217 total tackles, including 18.0 for loss and 6.5 sacks, in 39 games played. The Florence, Alabama native is hard-hitting MIKE linebacker that has the speed to catch up with opposing running backs downfield. Look for defensive coordinator Zach Arnett to dial up packages for Thompson to succeed in stopping Georgia’s run attack.
Shawn Preston (S, #12)
Like Emerson, Mississippi State safety Shawn Preston is one the team’s young leaders on defense. He’s recorded 30 solo tackles. 1.5 tackles for loss and a couple of pass deflections so far this year. The St. James, Louisiana native has explosive speed when covering opposing receivers in man-coverage. Preston seems to be fully adjusted to the collegiate level now and will be looking to make a play or two against Georgia. Look for Preston to be matched up with Georgia running back James Cook when he’s in the flat. That could be a matchup that would be enjoyable watching throughout the game.