STARKVILLE, Miss. — Nick Fitzgerald's one-game suspension for a violation of team policy was more severe than it appeared on the surface.
Mississippi State's starting quarterback and team captain was demoted to the scout team last week as the Bulldogs prepared for the season opener against Stephen F. Austin while his backup, Keytaon Thompson, took all of the first-team reps.
"Nick handled it extremely well," said MSU 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 SEC record with seven touchdowns passing and rushing and also matched a school record with five touchdown tosses, in a 63-6 rout. He finished with 473 yards 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 returned to the top of the depth chart when the 18th-ranked Bulldogs started practice Sunday.
Moorhead expects his senior signal caller to be ready to start against the Wildcats 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.