Because while Prescott and peers are doing their part in preparing for the December 30 date with Wake Forest…well, spring training is not that far away. Not for a kid like Prescott who is trying to stake a depth-chart claim in advance of 2012.
"I felt I have to go show what I can do, get my reps and just play," he said.
Prescott was speaking not just of last Friday's scrimmage, where he put on a show, but of these two week's bowl work in general. For a couple of real reasons the rookie has been given a whole lot more opportunity to show his stuff than would be the normal case for someone of his years. Year, rather. He was jumped up to #3 quarterback soon as bowl camp began with the departure of Dylan Favre, automatically increasing the work-load.
Then when second quarterback Tyler Russell sprained a knee early last week, suddenly the pup in the pound was alternating with starter Chris Relf practically series by series, snap by snap. Talk about fast-tracking his way up the depth chart.
But what has not changed is Prescott's 2011 status. Coach Dan Mullen is not pulling off the redshirt at this late point. So the freshman will be observing, not playing in Nashville. For that matter he has resumed the typical fall game-week role for these last few days of campus camp.
"I think I'm going to have to run some scout, and do a little bit of both," Prescott said, meaning he gets to quarterback, sort-of, two ‘teams' for a few days. He'll give the Dog defense as good a look as possible at how the Demon Deacons operate in full-team drills; while still taking turns with Relf and Russell in throwing drills just to keep the regulars from wearing down. Yeah, it's tempting to think of making a debut in a bowl game…
"But at the same time I think Tyler is alright, and Chris will get the job done."
Prescott definitely got his job done scrimmaging the other night, throwing for over 400 yards unofficially with a couple of touchdowns against one interception. His numbers would have been even better if not for a couple of turnovers by receivers, though Prescott made up for it by running for one score himself. And, pulling it down and taking off at other situations.
Trying to maximize that no-hit red jersey, maybe? It didn't work that way as unlike Relf the reserve quarterback was fairer game for the second and third defenses. Prescott wasn't insulted by the contact though.
"It's all good! I like to run the ball just as much as throwing the ball. So it's fun." Nor were the rest of the Dogs just teeing-off on a target they normally are forbidden from hitting. Everyone wants to see how the young quarterback can perform under game-type conditions, after all, even his own defense.
And while Prescott's early stats were good, growing to impressive as the scrimmage progressed, he wasn't so satisfied with how he ran things. "I started off kind of slow. I just had to get out of a little slump, get calmed-down. I was excited.
"My teammates just told to calm down, just relax. I did and it felt good to play under the lights for the first time in a long time."
It can't be overstated how much such opportunities mean to younger and/or newer players. In fact such situations are the real benefit of bowling for programs seeking to develop continuity. Maybe they won't look at that video, or the previous day's results, until real spring work begins. But Bulldog coaches wanted to have a stock of stuff to review in setting up '12 practice planning…not to mention making many final recruiting choices.
Such as at quarterback, suddenly a position much thinner than anticipated with Favre's abrupt departure. Yet Prescott's performance does ease a lot of spring practice concerns since there will be at least two prepared quarterbacks for that camp, including a seasoned starter. Besides, because he enrolled in January of '11 Prescott is ahead of a normal redshirt's schedule already.
Not that he's assuming any elevated status for the coming spring, mind. Bowl camp has been productive and even enjoyable…but Prescott knows where he still stands in the off-season pecking order. And that's OK, he says, because he has barely turned some pages in the larger offensive playbook.
"It's like once you get something, the rest of it starts to come. I've learned it pretty good, I feel I've still got some stuff but definitely a lot more to learn. So just go in every day and learn from Chris and Tyler and do the best I can. Just learn and go out there and do my best to contribute to the team."
Not to worry though that this team attitude means standing back during drills or scrimmage or any such thing. Mullen has called Prescott a "high energy" youngster and he's proved it in bowl camp. During the scrimmage there were a few plays the quarterback was seen racing downfield ahead of the ball and laying blocks…hmmm, no wonder defenders felt free to return some favors when it was Prescott carrying.
"It's just the emotions, I guess, I like to go down there and his some people!" Prescott grinned. "Yeah, I like to get after it and see everybody doing good. I like to see my teammates doing better than me and getting me going."
What also gets the youngest quarterback going is looking around him this week, at some of the guys working with the scout team too or taking the second- and third-team snaps. Runners like Josh Robinson, or receivers like Joe Morrow and Devin Fosselman. His classmates. For that matter there are second-year frosh Nick Griffin and Malcolm Johnson and Blaine Clausell and Dillon Day and, and, and…
Point being, the Bulldog's offensive future is taking shape even as the current team prepares to finish 2011 strong. "Oh yeah, we've got a lot of young guys, and it's good to have somebody back there you feel comfortable about," said Prescott, who'd love to have another scrimmage or something like that before this camp is complete.
"It's fun getting to go out there and play with all my friends and teammates, playing under the lights," he said. "I'm ready to do it again!"
Mississippi State practices twice more before taking Christmas break, working Monday afternoon and Tuesday morning. They will begin bowl week preparations next Monday in Nashville.