STARKVILLE — Nick Fitzgerald is back atop Mississippi State’s depth chart.
The senior quarterback and team captain served a one-game suspension for a violation of team policy last week, when he was demoted to the scout team as the Bulldogs prepared for the season opener against Stephen F. Austin. Keytaon Thompson took all of the first-team reps and was excellent in the victory.
“I think Nick handled it extremely well,” said Mississippi State head coach Joe Moorhead.
“He was sent down to the scout team for a week so he worked to give our defense a very good look. He was very mature during the week during meetings and on the field. On game day, he was a vocal presence on the sideline and a great resource for K.T. being out there in just his second start.”
Thompson went on to tie a single-game Southeastern Conference record by accounting for seven touchdowns, and he matched an MSU record with five touchdown passes. He finished with 473 yards of total offense.
With MSU preparing for its first true road game against a Power 5 opponent in a decade this weekend at Kansas State, Fitzgerald was back with the first team when the Bulldogs started practice on Sunday.
Moorhead expects his senior signal caller to be ready coming off the suspension.
“I think Nick has learned from the experience and he’s going to be better coming out and it’ll be positive moving forward,” Moorhead said.
Senior defensive tackle Cory Thomas will also return to the field after serving a one-game suspension during the opener. However, junior offensive guard Michael Story remains indefinitely suspended.
The Bulldogs escaped training camp and their first game relatively healthy.
“Just some bumps and bruises, nothing major,” Moorhead said.
Junior wide receiver Jamal Couch was active during the opening game, according to Moorhead, but did not receive any playing time against the Lumberjacks.
DE Montez Sweat led the SEC in sacks and tackles for loss last year and picked right back up where he left off. Sweat had 3.5 stops behind the line of scrimmage and two sacks to go along with six tackles in the opener.
WR Keith Mixon caught two passes for 21 yards in the opener but made his mark as a punt returner, returning six punts for 64 yards. Mixon showcased that his speed has returned after being hampered by a foot injury for the better part of a year.
DE Gerri Green is getting accustomed to playing with his hand on the ground this season after spending his first three years as a linebacker. Green has the prototypical body to play either position and would be an ideal outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme at the next level. He is a team captain and has made 133 career tackles, including 15.5 for loss, and six sacks. He has forced three fumbles, recovered two fumbles, broken up five passes and intercepted three passes — returning one 84 yards for a touchdown.