The Mississippi State Bulldogs will head into the 2023 college football season with a first-year head coach after the tragic passing of Mike Leach in December.
Zach Arnett, Leach’s defensive coordinator from 2020-2022, will begin his first full season as head coach in Starkville after agreeing to a four-year contract following Leach’s passing.
Leach, well known for the implementation of the “Air Raid” offense, passed away suddenly following complications from a heart condition.
In his three seasons at Mississippi State, Leach went 19-17, with the Bulldogs playing in a bowl game each season.
Arnett has gone away from Leach’s “pure Air Raid” style, a change he says Leach would be ok with.
“Who’s going to duplicate Mike Leach?” Arnett told ESPN on Monday. “There’s no chance in hell.”
“We’re not running the pure Air Raid that we ran then,” Arnett said. “And I don’t think [Leach] would necessarily have a problem with that because he would want me to run a program that’s in the vision that I see as best fit for its future.”
The Bulldogs will enter the 2023 season with an overhauled offensive staff led by former Appalachian State and Central Michigan offensive coordinator Kevin Barbay.
While the offensive scheme will look different, it will be led by a familiar face – quarterback Will Rodgers.
Rodgers, the SEC record-holder for completions, returns to Mississippi State for his fourth year in Starkville with a goal in mind.
“I’m trying to push this team and push this program to a place it’s never been before,” Rogers said in January, according to 247 Sports.
The Bulldogs open the season against Southeastern Louisiana on September 2nd.