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MSU still flummoxed over Memphis punt return

Updated: Sep. 20, 2021 at 5:57 PM CDT
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STARKVILLE, Miss. (WLBT) - As much as Mike Leach wants his Mississippi State players to turn the page towards their SEC opener this weekend, the elephant in the room was still there on Monday during the head coach’s weekly press conference.

Nearly 48 hours after suffering their first loss of the season to Memphis, the first question lobbed at Leach on Monday was about the controversial punt return from the Tigers’ Calvin Austin III. Fearing a fine, Leach did not directly side-step the question, but also made sure not to call out the Southeastern Conference officiating crew.

“There’s not a lot I can do differently,” said Leach in regards to how the aftermath of play was handled. “I clearly have some thoughts I just have to figure out if I want to make an investment in airing those thoughts.”

The agitation comes from replay clearly showing the back-judge signaling the ball dead after multiple MSU players touched the ball once the punt hit the ground inside the five yard-line. The SEC on Saturday night acknowledged that in a statement and said the play should’ve been reviewed.

Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, that didn’t happen. Leach alluded that both he and the MSU Athletic Department have been in contact with the SEC in the days since, but he also made it known that he does not want his players to keep thinking about what could have been.

“There were multiple questionable plays,” Leach said. “But the biggest thing is we need to worry about ourselves, what we do is most important and that they don’t dwell on that at all. I’ll handle that and our administration and the league can handle that and we focus on playing one game at a time.”

MSU returns to Davis Wade Stadium on Saturday against LSU. Kick-off is set for 11 a.m.

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