First MSU practice of Moorhead era underway, Fitzgerald returns

The first official practice of the Joe Moorhead era is complete for Mississippi State football.

Posted: Mar 20, 2018 10:53 PM
Updated: Mar 20, 2018 10:58 PM

STARKVILLE, Miss. (WTVA/MSU Athletics) - The first official practice of the Joe Moorhead era is complete for Mississippi State football. The first-year head coach put the Bulldogs through the first of 15 workouts this spring in a little over two hours on Tuesday evening at the Leo Seal Jr. Football Complex.


Highlighting the day was the return of senior quarterback Nick Fitzgerald. Nearly four months removed from ankle surgery, the heralded signal caller was in a yellow jersey and in a limited role, but he did participate in drills, make throws and direct the offense. Fitzgerald’s leadership was once again on display.

“He’s going to be limited,” Moorhead said. We’ll ease him back. We don’t want get out too far in front of our skis. But we’ll allow him to do the things he’s capable of doing.”

It’s been a busy few months Moorhead that has featured recruiting, installing and public appearances, but he was pleased to return to the football field.

“It was for all of us going a million miles an hour today because you’re teaching and learning essentially a new language and a new way to practice,” he said. “So from every small detail of the practice scripts and where we’re at on the field, the clocks and the drills and how we want things done; under circumstances for it being brand new for day one I was pleased but not satisfied.”

The Bulldogs will practice again Thursday and then go through their first full pads workout on Saturday at 11:15 a.m. at the Seal Complex. Saturday’s practice is open to the public. Thursday’s practice is closed to the public.

Below are quotes from Moorhead’s media session:

Head Coach Joe Moorhead
March 20, 2018

On the first practice …

“It was good. It was exciting after a couple of months of focusing on recruiting and winter workouts and getting everything organized from a structural standpoint and organizational standpoint. It was great to just get back on the field and coach and getting the opportunity to see these guys in our system and start teaching.”

On Nick Fitzgerald in practice …

“He was limited. He did the seven-on-seven drills and the individual drills. We had some stuff where we just did scout team stuff. You know, jog throughs. He did what he was capable of doing.”

On Nick Fitzgerald’s status this spring …

“He’s going to be limited. We’ll ease him back, we don’t want get out too far in front of our skis. But we’ll allow him to do the things he’s capable of doing.”

On if there is anyone unavailable this spring due to injury …

“No. I mean the guys that are in normal jerseys are guys that are full-go. Yellow means that they are limited. And red means they’re out.”

On the new staff …

“You’ve got special teams, offense, and defense. It was for all of us going a million miles an hour today because you’re teaching and learning essentially a new language and a new way to practice. So from every small detail of the practice scripts and where we’re at on the field, the clocks and the drills and how we want things done; under circumstances for it being brand new for day one I was pleased but not satisfied.”

On Nick Fitzgerald’s participation this spring …

“I think just in the repetitions that he’s able to participate. Just an understanding of the installation that we’re putting in on that day and as he continues to build up.”

On where Marcus Murphy will play this spring …

“I mean based on depth, Marcus is going to start out as a defensive back. We have him at safety to start with but I think he can play corner. He could probably play some offensive positions. We’ll have him work at some return stuff. I think he’ll be a big factor on special teams. But like all the mid-year guys I think it was going extra-fast for them today. Marcus is tremendously talented and it will slow down for him eventually.”

On the rotation at wide receiver …

“I think that’s one of the I won’t say question marks but it’s a position we’re going to need to sort some things out through evaluations. And we have a lot of bodies and a lot of guys that are capable of playing in the new system that we’re putting in place, from a pass-game perspective. We just need to see those guys in it and make the evaluations and see who gives you the opportunity to be the best three on the field at a given time.”

On the effort of the first day …

“At this point it would be a stretch to say great. I’d say I was pleased with the effort. I’d say I thought the execution and the learning was good. We talk about preparation, effort, and execution. And I thought the coaches did a good job providing the information to the kids in the meetings. And then, coming out and applying it on the field. There were some assignment busts in all three phases. But that’s to be expected. But for like I said day one with a brand new offense, defense, special teams, we’ll look at the film and clean it up. I thought it was a very positive first day and something to build off of.”

On learning new language …

“I think you do both at once. For us on offense we’re no-huddle. So a lot of it for skill guys is hand signals so you’re essentially learning sign languages. And then for the guys up front you’re learning verbal communication. So it’s kind of a two-pronged thing there. And then defensively it’s how you set the front; how you set the overages; and what the adjustments are and things like that. There’s a bunch of different ways to play quarter/half coverage, but whether it’s a color or a number that’s what kind of the difference in translation is. I think for our kids defensively I believe the fifth defensive coordinator in five seasons? This is them learning a fifth different language.”

On the scheduling of practice …

“We’ve been very measured in our approach and our installation. So we go on a three-day cycle. Tuesday and Thursday are installation days; Saturday is a review day. And then starting next week Tuesday and Thursday are install days and Saturday is a review day.”

On running backs catching passes in this offense …

“To be determined! I mean, they caught the balls that were thrown today on some stuff in seven-on-seven and individuals. But I don’t think that’s something that we make a concerted effort to say hey, we’re throwing balls to the running back. I think that’s part of the by-product of our offense, whether it gets to them in the progression or it’s something we’re getting the ball to them on a screen. Those guys are good athletes. I anticipate we’ll be fine throwing the ball to them.”

On Brandon Bryant …

“Brandon, we’re holding him out. He’s got some business to take care of off the field academically. We’re going to let him handle that and take it day by day. And when he handles his business we’ll get him back on the field.”

Article Comments

Tupelo
Overcast
44° wxIcon
Hi: 54° Lo: 39°
Feels Like: 38°
Columbus
Overcast
46° wxIcon
Hi: 51° Lo: 41°
Feels Like: 40°
Oxford
Overcast
39° wxIcon
Hi: 53° Lo: 35°
Feels Like: 32°
Starkville
Overcast
43° wxIcon
Hi: 48° Lo: 37°
Feels Like: 37°
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather