FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Mississippi State quarterback Nick Fitzgerald has 146 carries this season, seventh in the SEC and most among quarterbacks. Arkansas is preparing for him to once again be featured prominently in the Bulldogs’ offense Saturday (7 p.m. ET, ESPNU).
Fitzgerald drew comparisons Tuesday to former Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein, who Arkansas faced in the 2012 Cotton Bowl. Klein was a Heisman Trophy finalist that season.
“He reminds me a lot of Collin Klein, the old Kansas State quarterback that was very efficient at the quarterback run game,” said defensive backs coach Paul Rhoads, who coached against Klein while at Iowa State.
“It’s not just zone-read, it’s designed quarterback runs with counter blocking and power blocking and sweep blocking and so forth. He’s patient. He’s physical. He’s more than fast enough and he’s productive to the tune of 854 yards rushing.”
Fitzgerald (6-foot-5, 223 pounds) has 8 rushing touchdowns to go along with the 854 yards. The redshirt sophomore hasn’t been nearly as effective in the passing game. He has 16 touchdowns and 10 interceptions while completing just 53 percent of his passes.
“Yeah, (Fitzgerald) is a really good runner,” said senior linebacker Brooks Ellis. “He’s probably one of the best runners we’ll see all year as a quarterback. He’s pretty good. That’s definitely a challenge for us.”
Freshman walk-on quarterback Carson Proctor (6-4, 211) is playing the role of Fitzgerald this week in practice.