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John Raoux/Associated Press
Florida coach Dan Mullen was happy after a big win against Georgia on Saturday in Jacksonville.

Georgia football: What Mississippi State and Mike Leach said after a 31-24 loss

The Georgia football program had a lot to say after its 31-24 home win against Mississippi State on Saturday. The Bulldogs met the media on Zoom calls for a minimum of 50 minutes led by all the time that Kirby Smart (About 18 minutes) and JT Daniels (14 minutes) spent taking questions last night.

The SEC West Bulldogs whisked their postgame media obligations like Mike Leach’s offense: Fast. Mississippi State was short on time and had maybe 18-19 total minutes from Leach and a pair of player reps after the game Saturday night.

It wasn’t much, but take a read through what Mississippi State had to say on Saturday night in Athens

Mississippi State coach Mike Leach

On the effort level against Georgia: “Really good effort tonight. I think this is the best game we’ve played this year. I was very proud of the way our guys played. Wished we didn’t come up short. I was really proud of them. This is by a significant margin the best game we have played this year.” 

On Georgia’s defense grabbing hold of the game in the fourth quarter and depth becoming a factor: “I think it was depth. I think you hit it right on the head.” 

On the lack of available number of Bulldogs and decided to come to Athens and play short-handed anyway: “We were just excited to have a game.”

On the progress of freshman QB Will Rogers and him taking a step forward against Georgia: “I think he’s gotten better. I think our O-line took a step this week which I think was important. I think Will did, too. I think as a team we did. I think we played improved and you know we played together tonight than we have some. What sucks is we fell short, but you know I mean it is hard for teams to, generally speaking, to say on the field with Georgia and of course we were shorthanded besides. So I think we’ve got a bunch of young guys who are getting better and they are going to continue to get better.

“Anyway, we played extremely hard and I think well for the most part.” 

What did he learn about his team over the entire week with all the adversity: “Well, I think there’s a determination on our team’s part to improve and to get better and I think that a lot of those guys on the team, first of all, have adjusted kind of. The first thing to adjust to is playing college football because we are predominately freshman and sophomores and I mean predominately. It is crazy. Somebody had an article and I didn’t realize it was quite this low, but we have the least amount of returning starters or upperclassmen or something like that in the BCS.”

“Whether that is true or not, they are still really young guys. I think they have steadily improved. I think they have been committed to improving. I think the guys it is whittled down to now are pretty nitty-gritty guys that make you excited and proud to work with every day.” 

On balancing talking to the guys about being shorthanded against Georgia versus just his normal preparation: “Well next man up. Compete with yourself. Be the best player you can be and play together.” 

On this game being a teaching tool for the future: “I feel like it is pretty big and I think that because you now you just don’t illustrate it they can actually feel it as they were involved in it. If you come away with a win it is even bigger. The biggest key is to play well and we did play well today. The most important thing to do is to play well and I would say this team tonight played as hard and as well really with what your best is as any team I have ever had. I’ve had a lot of teams. Yeah, we’ve beaten some teams. We’ve beaten some teams that probably we weren’t supposed to beat.”

“But with regard to matching the best of your ability up to whatever the adversity may be, this team may have performed to that level higher than any other team that I’ve coached. From that standpoint, I am very proud of them.” 

On staying on schedule and being productive on first downs against Georgia: “I think they are byproducts of protecting better. Will [Rogers] reacting to what he sees better and receivers running more precise routes. That’s I know that is not a particularly fun answer for your article or whatever, but I think that over time it is getting more and more synchronized. Couple with that, we were very poised in this game I thought. People held their heads up. People were excited to be out there and compete and I think there’s a lot to draw from this game and we need to use it to push us forward.”

On how his coaches performed in this game: Well, starting with myself and my assistant coaches because usually, the guy that coaches the worst in these situations is me. I think our player, in particular, deserved the biggest pat on the back but we are proud to be a part of a team with them and proud to be a part of this one.” 

Mississippi State senior LB Erroll Thompson

On holding back the Georgia rushing offense: “I feel like Coach [Zach] Arnett he did a heck of a job just game planning and knowing that we have got a lot of boundary runs from everybody. That’s kind of something that everybody has been hitting us with.”

“So kind of just overemphasizing stopping the boundary runs. I feel like coach Arnett did a great job of just installing packages just to kind of slow that up.” 

On what it felt like walking off the field against Georgia: “Well, of course, there are never any moral victories. But I feel like everybody can hang their head and knowing that we fought to the end and we progressed from last week or the week before on both sides of the ball. But still, a lot of work to do and you know there are no moral victories like I said.” 

On the plan to stop the Georgia run game and force them to pass: I mean coming in you know that Georgia is a physical team and they wanted to establish the run game. I feel like we knew we had to slow that up or stop that to have a chance in this ballgame. But also I feel like coming in tonight they might have taken a step back maybe running the ball or whatever so they got their pass game going. Going forward that’s something we know we have limit, you know big plays and things like that in the passing game.”

On how he thought JT Daniels played against his team: “I thought he was pretty solid. I mean I thought he was solid before he got the start against us tonight and I still feel the same way. I mean he throws a pretty ball and the guy is a very talented guy and I thought he did well tonight.” 

On how his team played despite being limited in numbers against Georgia: “Really just realizing that we can only control the things that we can control. Not really worrying about who’s here or who should be here or anything like that. You find a lot about yourself when adversity strikes so I feel like tonight we took a step together and we probably fought the best we have the whole year.” 

Mississippi State freshman WR Jaden Walley

On the mood coming into the game despite traveling with approximately 40 players: “We knew we belonged here. We just thought they were the same as us. We could compete with them a little bit. Just harping hard on playing the next play and keeping the energy up on the sideline.”

 On his career-best night as a freshman against Georgia: “I felt like I could run better with the energy that we had as a team. It just made me feel a little better about myself. It gave me a little confidence.” 

On the discussions amongst the team on so few players being available to travel to face Georgia: “We just go out and play. We had all we needed I guess. Just go out and play every day. Practice hard every day. Don’t worry about who’s missing. If you are up next, then just go ahead and do what you have got to do to help out the team.” 

On the energy from the sidelines for this game: “I mean today it felt like there were more people. I feel like since we were shorthanded it felt like more people on the sidelines felt like they needed to have more energy to make it seem like we had more people. It really helped us out a lot. It wasn’t anything different.” 

On how his team competed against Georgia: “I think that’s the best fight we could have had all year.” 

Did his team play up to the competition this week against Georgia? “Last week in practice, I feel like it was a different vibe in practice most definitely. Everybody was locked in most of the time. The whole trip we have been locked in. I feel like that’s what helped us out. I feel like this is our team. This is the team we have supposed to have been all year and it is just now popping out. We are steely now.” 

Rewinding Georgia-Mississippi State

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