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Kirk Herbstreit Reacts To Mike Leach's SEC Coaching Debut

Mississippi State football head coach Mike Leach.

BATON ROUGE, LOUISIANA - SEPTEMBER 26: Head coach Mike Leach of the Mississippi State Bulldogs looks on as his team takes on the LSU Tigers during a NCAA football game at Tiger Stadium on September 26, 2020 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

So far, so good for Mike Leach and his Air Raid offense in the SEC. Mississippi State football had one of the biggest wins of the week, knocking off defending national champion LSU 44-34.

It didn't take long for the Bulldogs to be transformed in Leach's image. Quarterback KJ Costello, who transferred in from Stanford in order to play for Leach, had a record setting day. His 623 yards broke the conference's single-game record. Pretty solid for Game No. 1, against a very good opponent.

We've seen Leach teams pull off huge upsets before. There are also games where defenses totally have his system figured out, and are able to put the clamps down, as Washington did to Washington State in the final seven of Leach's eight years in Pullman. After the 31-28 upset overtime win against UW in 2012, Leach's teams failed to break 17 points.

Mississippi State has some recruiting challenges compared to the rest of the SEC, but he'll have access to better players than he did at Wazzu or Texas Tech. If he continues to prove that he can turn out NFL quarterbacks like Gardner Minshew, he could wind up with some pretty talented passers in Starkville. He'll have to prove it on a week-to-week basis first, though, ESPN's Kirk Herbstreit believes.

Herbstreit had Costello, Mississippi State, and Leach sweep his player/team/coach of the week awards. For the long term, he still wants to see more consistency from both Leach and the Bulldogs program.

He discussed the win on ESPN's CFB podcast with David Pollack and Kevin Negandhi, released Monday. Via 247:

"The first thing that I start to think about is ... Mike Leach and Mississippi State — their history is do that, lose to Arkansas or lose to Kentucky or, 'Get up for Alabama, we're going to Tuscaloosa, we're going to show them,' and then lose to Vandy when they play Vandy or Ole Miss, those kind of games," Herbstreit said. "So let's get excited for 'em. I can't wait to watch their next game at home against Arkansas. It's going to be great. But I don't know if this is a team that is just going to go right through the SEC, you know what I mean? That's not, I think, where we are right now.

"I'm excited for them and, respectfully, their quarterback and their offense. But let's see where they go from here, as far as handling the exposure and the big lights and everybody bragging about 'em. Are they a threat in the SEC? With that offense, they're on of those teams that's a threat every week. But do they have staying power to get through the gauntlet? I don't think they do."

Mississippi State football will be a big favorite at home against Arkansas this week, and may even be at Kentucky the following week as well. After that, they really get thrown into the fire a bit, with Texas A&M at home on Oct. 17, followed by Alabama in Tuscaloosa on Halloween.