Calvin’s air raid experience, Rogers’ leadership propel Mississippi State comeback

Sep. 5—STARKVILLE — Jamire Calvin was a new guy coming into fall camp, but he knew Mike Leach’s Air Raid offense better than most of the guys lining up next to him.

A grad transfer from Washington State, Calvin spent two seasons playing under Leach.

His athleticism paired with knowledge of Leach’s offense showed immediately in fall camp. He was targeted as much as any receiver in the team’s first scrimmage.

Saturday, fans got to see him shine in opposite parts of an unforgettable game.

Calvin had three catches for 67 yards in the game with a touchdown on the offense’s fourth drive — giving MSU a 14-0 lead in the first.

“Caught it, saw the seam and tried to hit it as fast as I possible could,” Calvin said of the designed screen that led to that touchdown.

That play would be the last bright spot before an La. Tech run gave MSU a 34-14 deficit early in the fourth quarterback.

State built momentum through all three phases of the game before it finally started to connect deep in the passing game — where Calvin excelled once again.

His 40-yard completion from quarterback Will Rogers was key in a drive which started at MSU’s 23-yard line and resulted in a touchdown in less than four minutes.

Growing up with a football coach of a dad, Rogers has been regarded as a natural leader by his teammates throughout fall camp.

When La. Tech was controlling the game heading into the fourth quarter, Rogers needed those skills on display.

Leach said much of MSU’s players quit despite the slight possibility of a comeback in play.

Rogers wasn’t one of them.

“He didn’t falter at all,” Calvin said. “He didn’t shake. He stayed the same person the whole entire game.”

An SEC team can get away with lackluster effort against a team such as La. Tech, but if its quarterback gives out, hope goes out the window.

Rogers threw for three touchdowns in the game with an 83 percent completion rate.

His offensive line created issues, highlighted by a play late in the third quarter where he had to scramble and launch the ball out-of-bounds — or so it appeared.

Instead of settling for an incompletion, Rogers made his biggest mental mistake of the game by trying to force an off-balance pass to a running back in the flat which led to a pick-six.

The score gave La. Tech a 17-point lead, but it wasn’t enough to discourage Rogers from leading MSU’s largest fourth-quarterback comeback in program history.

“When you’re a quarterback and you’re a leader — that’s what you really need to be a great team,” Calvin said. “Without that, we wouldn’t have won this game.”

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