At 2-0, Mississippi State quarterback Nick Fitzgerald likes where his team is at heading into Saturday’s game against No. 12 LSU.
“I feel great. Very confident going into this week,” Fitzgerald said during an interview on The Paul Finebaum Show. “Two big wins. Two big defensive games y’all have seen. (Defensive coordinator) Coach (Todd) Grantham has those boys rolling, so we’re excited.”
That said, Fitzgerald was well-aware of the challenge the Tigers pose.
“LSU is (a) big, talented, strong, fast defense,” he said. “We’re going to have to play lights-out in order to make anything happen.”
Fitzgerald had an epic season statistically in 2016, leading the SEC in multiple offensive categories, including total offensive yardage, rushing touchdowns and 100-yard rushing games. And he hasn’t missed a beat this season. In the Bulldogs’ first two games, Fitzgerald has completed 59.6 percent (28-for-47) of his attempts for 363 yards and five touchdowns. He has also run 17 times for 152 yards and a team-best three scores.
Despite all the talk surrounding him, Fitzgerald had no interest in assessing his place among the SEC’s best quarterbacks, saying he would “let everybody else talk about that.”
But he had no problem talking about the progression he’s made since arriving in Starkville, Mississippi.
“Coming in out of high school (in) a triple-option offense, I didn’t throw the ball at all,” he said. “(So I) came in, really knew I had to work on my passing, everything about mechanics — pocket passing, on the run, everything about it. (Head) Coach (Dan) Mullen and Coach Johnson really attacked that with me, really kind of took me under their wing and developed me at my own pace. I didn’t have to get thrown into any games early. I got to develop and learn from the guys ahead of me, so that helped a lot.”
One of his predecessors was the quarterback he called “arguably the best player” in Mississippi State history: Dak Prescott.
Though Fitzgerald shied away from a direct comparison, he was thankful for the opportunity to have Prescott as a mentor and leaving a template to follow.
“There was just something about him that people wanted to follow. People wanted to listen to what he had to say,” Fitzgerald said. “For the rest of us, that was something that we have to work on. Having him was fantastic, though. I got to watch him, how he interacted with fans, coaches, players on and off the field, how he handled media — everything about it. So any time I was around him, I tried to act like a sponge and soak up and learn everything I possibly could about that aspect of it while also him giving me tips and pointers for my play as well.”
Watch Fitzgerald’s full interview with Finebaum here.