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Mike Leach and K.J. Costello could cause chaos in the SEC with the Air Raid offense

Mike Leach has made the move from Washington State Cougars to Mississippi State Bulldogs, and while his new squad wouldn’t win the mascot battle, he’ll make them more competitive in college football’s best conference, the SEC. Leach is one of the most popular coaches in college football, partly because of his amusing press conferences and personality, but mostly because of his one-of-a-kind offensive scheme: the Air Raid.

Leach has been a proponent of the Air Raid offense since its inception, helping develop the offense with Hal Mumme at Iowa Wesleyan, Valdosta State and Kentucky in the 1990s. While we have seen some innovative, unique offenses in the SEC (i.e., Joe Brady and LSU in 2019), we have never quite seen anything like what Leach is bringing to the Bulldogs:

Pass play rate when it was a one score game in 2019
Team Pass Play Rate
Washington State (Leach) 84.1%
LSU 65.1%
Alabama 63.7%
Florida 60.9%
Arkansas 56.0%
South Carolina 55.9%
Texas A&M 55.8%
Missouri 53.1%
Tennessee 52.0%
Auburn 52.0%
Georgia 48.7%
Ole Miss 47.9%
Vanderbilt 46.6%
Mississippi State 45.4%
Kentucky 34.7%

No one sniffed Washington State when it came to being aggressive through the passing attack in one-score games — their pass play rate was 14 percentage points higher than any other offense in college football. Considering that passing is a far more efficient way to win the game, it should be no surprise that Leach’s offense had the second highest rate of successful plays in one-score games.

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