The presumptive favorite to win the quarterback job in 2016 for the Mississippi State Bulldogs is Nick Fitzgerald. It makes sense that he would be the favorite as he was the first off the bench for Dan Mullen in 2015 whenever the Bulldogs had some mop-up time or if Dak Prescott needed to leave the game like he did against Troy. Most fans and many analysts just assume Fitzgerald is going to get the job.
I tend to think he will as well, but it is far from being a foregone conclusion. The best thing Nick Fitzgerald has going for him is the vast amount of experience he has for someone who is just a redshirt sophomore.
Fitzgerald has been with the team ever since bowl practices for the 2013 Liberty Bowl began at the end of the 2013 season for MSU. He graduated early which allowed him to participate in bowl practices and spring practice for what would have been his final semester of high school. Fitzgerald knows the offense and he knows the team, and those are the factors that make him the likely candidate to be named the permanent starter shortly after the season begins.
We saw Nick Fitzgerald play some in 2015, but not an abundance. He received most of his playing time in the win over Troy when Dak Pescott had to leave the game early due to a stomach virus. On the season, Fitzgerald completed 11 of 14 pass attempts for 235 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. He also rushed 23 times for 127 yards and 3 touchdowns.
Even while Dak Prescott was rewriting the record book for the Mississippi State Bulldogs, there were some fans who thought Fitzgerald was going to shatter all of Prescott’s records. Those are pretty lofty expectations, but we’ll see if he is up to the task this year.
If Nick Fitzgerald wins the job like many assume, the offense will be similar to the 2013 offense or the 2014 offense. It will depend on how much production the Bulldogs get from the running backs. If someone steps up to carry the running load, the offense could resemble the 2014 season, and if not, expect Fitzgerald to become the primary running option like Dak Prescott was in 2013.
Projections with Fitzgerald
- Passing Yards: Around 2,500
- Completion Percentage: 58% to 65%
- Rushing Yards: 700 to 1,000
- Passing Touchdowns: 20 to 25
- Rushing Touchdowns: 10 to 15
- Interceptions: 7 to 12
- Win total 7 to 10
There is a lot of pressure on Fitzgerald as the year opens up. As I stated earlier, most people anticipate him to be the guy to win the quarterback job, and there are some who think he’ll have Bulldog fans saying “Dak who?” If he can put up numbers that are are at least in the same neighborhood as Prescott did in 2014, then the Bulldogs won’t win less than 7 or 8 games. If he can surpass what Prescott was able to do as some think, though I think unlikely, a 9 or 10 win season isn’t out of the question.