Zach Arnett
Mississippi State head coach Zach Arnett speaks during NCAA college football Southeastern Conference Media Days, Tuesday, July 18, 2023, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/George Walker IV)

Zach Arnett Discusses Mississippi State Football

Mississippi State first-year head coach Zach Arnett took the podium on Day 2 of SEC Media Days Tuesday. Arnett was the defensive coordinator under former head coach Mike Leach, who tragically passed away in December just before their bowl game. Arnett took over as interim head coach and was officially hired as head coach Dec. 15, 2022.

Honoring Coach Leach

Arnett, 36, is the youngest head coach in the SEC and he’ll look to continue Mississippi State’s success. Arnett’s first game as head coach came at the ReliaQuest Bowl last year, and he led the team to an emotional win against Illinois. Arnett acknowledged the difficult transition, and his first priority was making sure the players had everything they needed to get through the tragic event. Junior quarterback Will Rogers also spoke at Media Days, and he talked about honoring Leach and moving forward.

Change of Play

Leach was known for his aggressive air raid offense, but the Bulldogs look to take a step back from this approach. Leach put most of the defensive responsibility on Arnett, allowing him to focus solely on the offense. As a then defensive coordinator to now head coach, the team looks to have more variability in their play. Kevin Barbay will be the new offensive coordinator this year after previously being at Appalachian State. Rogers went on to talk about what we could see from the offense this year.

Playoff Hopes

Arnett said he hopes to make Mississippi State a playoff team, and with College Football Playoff transitioning to 12 teams in 2024, he thinks he can make it happen. Last season, the team finished with a 9-4 record, which could be enough to make the CFP in the future. Arnett talked about how the team is committed to developing professional players and highlighted the 2014 season which was led by current Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott. With a team filled with veterans, Arnett’s hope is to have more players committed from Mississippi. He went on to speak of the importance Rogers and his other veteran players returning.

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