Mike Leach: Mississippi State Will Hold Kicker Tryout After FG Misses vs. Arkansas

Erin WalshNovember 7, 2021

FAYETTEVILLE, ARKANSAS - NOVEMBER 06:  Head Coach Mike Leach of the Mississippi State Bulldogs arrives at the stadium before a game against the Arkansas Razorbacks at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium on November 06, 2021 in Fayetteville, Arkansas. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

The Mississippi State Bulldogs will be holding open tryouts for a new kicker following Saturday's 31-28 loss to the Arkansas Razorbacks, a game in which Mike Leach's team missed three field goal attempts.

"There's an open tryout on our campus for kickers," the Mississippi State head coach said after the loss, per ESPN's Alex Scarborough. "Anybody that wants to kick or walk on and kick at Mississippi State, we'll hold a tryout any time you can get over there to our building, providing you're cleared by the NCAA."

Senior Brandon Ruiz and freshman Nolan McCord combined to go 0-of-3 on field goals in Saturday's loss. Ruiz missed from 23 and 46 yards, while McCord, who was given the opportunity to hit a game-tying field goal to reach overtime, missed from 40 yards. 

It's not surprising that Leach is disappointed in his kickers. The duo left nine points on the table, and if they hit at least two of their attempts they could have won the game. 

Ruiz entered Saturday's game 17-of-17 on extra points, but 5-of-7 on field goal attempts. He has yet to hit a 50-plus yard field goal this season, and has made just 2-of-9 from that range in his college career. 

McCord entered Saturday 8-of-8 on extra points and 4-of-7 on field goal attempts. 

While the kickers were ineffective against Arkansas, Leach also told reporters after the loss that the Bulldogs needed to do a better job on defense: 

"We just didn’t stop them," he said. "I thought their offensive line did a good job blocking us. I thought we needed to affect the quarterback more, and then when we did, we didn’t finish the deal. We’ve got to penetrate and create havoc back there. The other thing, we took our eyes off some guys."

Mississippi State's offense was the least of the team's concerns as quarterback Will Rogers completed 36-of-48 passes for 417 yards and four touchdowns against one interception.

Saturday's loss dropped Mississippi State to 5-4 with three games left against No. 13 Auburn, unranked Tennessee State and No. 16 Ole Miss.