STARKVILLE – Mississippi State held its second bowl practice on Saturday morning as the Bulldogs continue preparing for their Dec. 31 matchup with Rice in the Liberty Bowl.
Coach Dan Mullen will utilize the first few days of bowl prep as a chance for some of his younger players to get a majority of the reps. Most of the starters did limited individual work on Saturday and were kept out of the scrimmage portion of practice.
“It’s a great opportunity to flip the switch because a lot of these guys haven’t been getting a ton of reps,” Mullen said. “But they’re going to in spring ball. Next year they’ll be guys that are called upon to be in the rotation so this is kind of jump starting them into that rotation for spring ball.”
MSU will continue to work with its younger players until Wednesday when the game plan for Rice is installed.
There were also several players trying out at new positions on Saturday. Junior safety Dee Arrington took reps at linebacker, freshman defensive back Gabe Myles of Starkville practiced at wide receiver and junior cornerback Justin Cox of West Point worked at safety, where he was a standout at East Mississippi Community College.
“We just want to see how guys handle it and see if they’ll fit in,” Mullen said.
Nick Fitzgerald graduated high school Thursday, arrived at State on Friday and took reps as the second-team quarterback on Saturday.
The 6-foot-5, 205-pounder from Richmond Hill, Ga., split reps with freshman Damian Williams behind center despite having less than 24 hours to learn the playbook.
“When we told him about that opportunity his eyes got real big and he said it sounded really neat,” Mullen said. “I told him he’d be the No. 2 quarterback and that’s when his eyes got really wide open. But what an unbelievable opportunity for him to come out here and get a couple of reps. That’s a guy that’ll be enrolling in January and going through spring ball, but that won’t be his first practice. This will give him a lot of confidence moving forward.”
Sophomore quarterback Dak Prescott did some individual work at practice but did not scrimmage. Prescott is returning from a nerve injury to his left arm but expects to be ready to go by the Liberty Bowl.
“I feel good and I’m fine,” Prescott said. “I was ready to go in that last game. I haven’t had any problems, I’m good.”
These are Prescott’s first practice reps since late October.
“It was my first full days being out there and doing everything like ball handling and all my drills,” Prescott said. “It was good to be back out there with my guys.”