Much as fans hate hearing it, first-season starter Fitzgerald is on the right track. It’s just that the Bulldog offense did as much to derail itself this past Saturday as anything thrown at them by Auburn.
“I mean, we had a good gameplan going in. We just didn’t execute.”
Not that Fitzgerald doesn’t address more specific stuff. And he definitely isn’t taking it easy on himself, especially so after watching the Auburn review.
“There are a lot of plays to be made that I didn’t make. I didn’t put passes where they needed to be, didn’t make the right protection calls, weren’t making the right checks. There’s a lot of stuff on my part I could have done better.”
Defense, special teams, the entire Mississippi State could have put up a much better battle on the home field. Previous losses were painful, but something about this SEC setback stung even more. Enough that Fitzgerald talked about having a chance to be upset out how they played and lost before getting back to business.
With, it seems, a different attitude?
“We kind of use that as a check maybe we’re not as good as we thought we were. Not in a bad way but we have to work harder than we have. And we’re not going to be just show up and win, obviously.”
Obviously not against a Western Division opponent. And certainly not on a long road trip to an utterly-unfamiliar setting, against a host team riding high again. Friday finds the Bulldogs in Provo to take on Brigham Young, and while some of the team didn’t get their scouting report until Monday evening the quarterback was already getting a read on the Cougars.
“They’re very talented. They just went to Michigan State and beat a very good team by 14 points. They’re older than the people we’re used to playing against. They’re good, they’re talented, they’re disciplined. So it will be a good matchup.”
It will be a quick turnaround for State as well, since the practice schedule had to move up a day before leaving Thursday. Travel itself shouldn’t be a big deal after the Massachusetts experience, and Fitzgerald was happy to hear that the Provo area forecast is for cool but not uncomfortable conditions gameday.
“And we’re practicing later at night to get used to the timeframe we’re playing.” As for having to hustle everything this week, that made getting over Auburn easier as well.
“Knowing we had to come right back in yesterday and get to work preparing for this next game helped get it behind us.”
Meaning, time to move on to what is ahead. It’s not the sort of matchup and setting which ease bouncing-back. At the same time playing a name opponent grabs attention and ought intensify the focus. If it does the same for execution?
Fitzgerald hopes so. “It just takes everyone doing their 1/11th. And everyone being a little bit better and executing a little bit better.”