Mississippi State will use at least two QBs against South Alabama

Published 8:53 pm Thursday, September 1, 2016

Associated Press

It’s not Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen’s style to reveal much about his depth chart before the first game, so it came as quite a surprise when he announced a starting quarterback during this week’s press conference.

His choice: Nick Williams.

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Only one problem — no such player exists on the roster.

Can’t say the coach doesn’t have a sense of humor. The joke was a combination of the names of the two quarterbacks — junior Damian Williams and sophomore Nick Fitzgerald — who have worked their way to the top of Mississippi State’s depth chart.

Mullen said both will play when Mississippi State hosts South Alabama on Saturday in the opener for both teams. He said the two-man plan isn’t an attempt to deceive the Jaguars.

“I was wanting complete clarity and having a defined No. 1,” said Mullen, who is in his eighth season at Mississippi State. “But I don’t think there is one yet so I plan on us playing more than one in the first quarter.”

A two-quarterback system might not be ideal, but it’s better than the situation at the start of the month. The Bulldogs opened preseason camp with a four-man race before sophomore Elijah Staley transferred after the first few weeks of camp.

Redshirt freshman Nick Tiano appears to be the third-string quarterback, though Mullen said he’s excited about his long-term future with the program.

Williams is the veteran of the bunch, but has only one career start which was back in 2013 as a true freshman. The 6-foot-1, 229-pounder redshirted last season.

The 6-foot-5, 230-pound Fitzgerald completed 11 of 14 passes for 235 yards and three touchdowns last year in a reserve role. He said he wasn’t sure who was going to take the first snap against South Alabama, but that it wasn’t particularly important.

“We’re all going to play, we’re all going to get our snaps and show what we can do,” Fitzgerald said.