The Quarterback Battle Continues to Be Intriguing
First and foremost, the question on everyone's mind is who will replace Dak. Well, the quarterback competition continued on today and the general fan perception that Nick Fitzgerald or Elijah Staley would run away with the job was proven to be wrong today.
Both Staley and Fitzgerald had a mixture of success and struggles today. They both performed well at times and led the offense to score touchdowns, Fitzgerald threw for one and Staley caught one on a trick play, but it seemed like Damian Williams and Nick Tiano had the best showing on the field of the four quarterbacks.
Damian Williams, the guy that saved the 2013 season by leading MSU to victory over Arkansas and kept the Bulldogs competitive in the win against Ole Miss, proved today to everyone that he's still involved in this quarterback battle. Williams completed 14 of his 20 passes for a completion percentage of 70% for 165 yards and two touchdowns. Williams seemed poised and in control of the offense for most of the game.
Freshman Nick Tiano also played well, throwing a touchdown and 99 yards on eight completions to go with a completion percentage of 62% along with an interception. But Tiano seemed to be most comfortable later in the spring game and looked most impressive when running the ball. Tiano ran for 76 yards on 10 carries and bowled right through defenders as he did it. I wouldn't be surprised if Tiano received playing time this fall as a third or fourth and short running threat that is similar to what we saw out of Dak early in his career.
It's entirely possible that nobody wins the job outright just yet, but these two guys certainly showed fans their potential and likely convinced many that they have just as much of a chance to win the job. The quarterback battle will wage on, and it looks like Dan Mullen really can't go wrong with whomever he picks.
Dan Mullen Showed Some Offensive Creativity
We're used to the annual trick play that typically has Anthony Dixon involved in some way, but that wasn't even the most creative play that the offenses showed today.
Mullen put some of his more creative plays on display today and did so with a range of creativity. Whether it was the relatively more basic play with using Brandon Holloway on a sweep from receiver, to having Ashton Shumpert throw a jump pass, to the Damian Williams run-pass option, and finally the gem shown above. Dan Mullen continued to remind fans that he's one of the more creative offensive minds in the nation today, and hopefully that trend will continue into the season. We'll likely need it against some of the better SEC teams.
Mississippi State has Several Versatile Players on the Roster
Gabe Myles, Brandon Holloway, and Malik Dear all reminded fans of their ability to play at multiple positions on the field. And this will be useful for the fact that the Bulldogs will need as much experience as possible at the receiver position, which is still a relatively young group and is missing Donald Gray and Fred Ross.
But the surprise of the spring game to me came with seeing Ashton Shumpert play at running back, in a bit of an H-back role at times, and then also at linebacker. Shumpert's struggles have been fairly well documented and he's received a lot of unfair backlash, but he's still an incredible athlete and will be able to find a place on the field. The versatility of these four players will be a huge boost for MSU if Mullen can find the most creative ways to utilize them to help carry the offense this year.