Bulldog Quarterback Starts Season Second-Half at Kentucky

It’s been a while since Nick Fitzgerald came to post-practice interviews wearing an icepack. It wasn’t any sign the Bulldog quarterback had been throwing extra passes though. “It’s just getting later in the season, getting a little sore. Got to take care of the body.”

Come Saturday it’s time to take care of business as Mississippi State takes on Kentucky (6:30ct, SECN). Fitzgerald was a true freshman and redshirting the last time a Bulldog team visited Commonwealth Stadium. He returns as the starting quarterback, for a team which has to snap out of its October issues and get back on a winning track.


How would you grade the offensive performance at BYU? “I think we had some really good things. And I think we had some bad things. There were certain drives we executed all the way down the field. There were certain drives maybe we’d get something started and kind of shoot ourselves in the foot. Like a missed block, a bad throw, a penalty. It we want to be successful in games it’s just not something we can do.”


Coach talked about the difficulties of getting to the second and third option? “I mean, I’ve got a good offensive line, they generally give me a lot of time to throw the ball. So I don’t think getting that second or third option is too bad most of the time. I think it’s more comfortability and how much you know about their defense, to be able to know how fast to get off your first or second read to get to the third or fourth or fifth.”


Can you tell the clock is slowing down for you? “Yeah, I think I have a better feel for my pocket, how much time I have to make my reads and that kind of thing. I think every week I’m trying to improve on it and I hope getting better every week, working hard too. I’m hoping going forward it’s going to keep getting better and better, I think I feel more comfortable back there. And I think I’m starting to get through my reads a little quicker.”


What do you see from Kentucky? “A lot of zone coverage, playing off in the corners. A big, big nose guard so we’re going to have to try to displace him to get a run game going. It’s going to be a good SEC test.”


On your overtime touchdown at BYU, at what point did you decide you had to leap? “Honestly, I broke out of the pocket, I was running and it just came to be one-on-one, me and him. As I was running it just kind of happened. I wasn’t really thinking about it, I just did it. At the time I thought I was on the one-yard line so I could kind of jump and land in. I had no idea I was jumping from the three-and-a-half or four.”

“So when I jumped and he clipped me and I fell, I looked and I saw a pylon and just prayed that I came down on the line with the ball.”


Aeris Williams had a nice game, have you seen him improve on areas besides running the ball? “Like you said, he’s been running the ball really well. At the beginning of the season obviously he wasn’t playing too much, he had some problems with some of the other aspects of it.”

“But he’s definitely came on strong and gotten better every week. And obviously you can see he’s producing on the field. So he’s doing pretty well.”


Did you talk to him to help him in that time? “I talked to him every day, and worked with him every day.”


Kentucky runs some odd fronts different from everybody in the conference, how do you attack that? “Well, they run kind of a similar defense to ours with a lot of odd, overhangs in the boundary, that kind of thing. So we have some experience looking at it from ours. There are a few difference obviously but it’s mainly about in the run game running off the ball, displacing people. And in the pass it’s going to be a lot of zone coverage so run good routes and making good balls to catch.”


What can you do to become a more accurate passer? “I think it all starts with my feet. I think on plays you see me very calm in the pocket with my feet are the plays that you see an accurate ball. And I think plays that you see me get a little jittery or freak-out or the pocket collapses or if I feel pressure, that’s when the ball is going to sail or be inaccurate.”

“So I think it all has to start with my feet, letting my feet take me through my progressions.”


What did the double-tight ends open up last game? “It opens up a certain aspect of the offense to where we have plays they can both kind of get out on an edge and lead-block. We have plenty of pass plays we can motion one across or have one on both sides. It just opens up a few different run plays and a few different pass plays.”


Do you feel the unwarranted pressure of following Dak Prescott? “I mean, you know it’s coming. When you follow someone as good as Dak you know the comparisons are going to come. I mean as a young player he was still very good. So I’m just trying to play up to whatever I can, not really worrying about trying to be like Dak or if Dak had done this I need to do this and that kind of thing. I learned a lot from him and he taught me a lot.”

“But it’s just kind of being my own person, making my own plays. But obviously you’re going to get compared to the guy before you.”

“No doubt he’s a phenomenal player, he’s doing it on Sundays now. He’s definitely someone to look up to. Now that I am playing it does kind of open up a little bit how good he really was.”

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