Costello, No. 16 Miss. St. aim for encore vs. Arkansas

Another week in the Southeastern Conference’s West division brings another nationally ranked opponent for Arkansas, and a newcomer at that in No. 16 Mississippi State.Mississippi State (1-0, 1-0 SEC) plays its first game of the Mike Leach era at Davis Wade Stadium on Saturday in Starkville. The Bulldogs are new to the polls and fresh off a season-opening 44-34 win at reigning national champion LSU.The Bulldogs could not have debuted coach Leach’s “Air Raid” offense in more spectacular fashion than with quarterback K.J. Costello setting the SEC single-game passing record.Costello — who is an import from the Pac-12 like the former Washington State coach Leach — threw for 623 yards and five touchdowns against the Tigers. He surpassed the conference’s 27-year-old mark of 544 by 79 yards.Not a bad start considering that his staff is still “becoming familiar with (the) personnel,” Leach said at his Monday press conference.Mississippi State appeared to have personnel well-equipped for the pass-heavy attack. Four Bulldogs caught at least six passes, reflecting a hallmark of the system. Osirus Mitchell had seven receptions for 183 yards and two touchdowns.The use of running back Kylin Hill as a receiver out of the backfield proved especially vexing for LSU. He hauled in eight receptions for 158 yards and a score.This week against Arkansas, Mississippi State faces a defense built to address its spread offense.The Razorbacks (0-1, 0-1), in their first game under coach Sam Pittman, operate in a 3-2-6 defensive formation. Leach said variations of the odd-stack defense has “worked in the past in (the SEC).”The new scheme made an attention-grabbing first impression for a half last week in a 37-10 loss to No. 4 Georgia. Arkansas held the Bulldogs to just three offensive points before halftime.”They’re a pretty tenacious group,” Leach said. “They moved around well, I thought they were aggressive. They flat-out took a half away from Georgia.”

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