"It's really just the practice and the repetition," Prescott said. "Getting comfortable with being back in the pocket and moving around. And it will all come back."
Note, how he said ‘will' come back. That is an admission he is not entirely up to speed or to standards Prescott sets for himself at this stage of his Bulldog career. It has shown in the early August days during drills and team competition with a little looseness in passes, or maybe a slivered-second longer the execution. Not much, understand; certainly nothing to cause concern to anyone who saw how Prescott performed last fall.
It is simply the inevitable ‘rust' remaining from the turf toe surgery and recovery that left Prescott restricted in spring. He knew it, expected it, and most of all is taking care of it today during the two-a-day stage of camp.
"A lot in the mental game I was ready to go, the checks and this and that. That wasn't the problem, it was the repetition. Getting my feet back under me and my footwork going, making my back foot and moving around and throwing the ball. That's the difference."
The arm? No difference there; Prescott can bring the ball as well as ever, not least because what he did do in spring was participate in specific short passing drills form a stool. It spoke not just for his arm strength but how stout that core must be, to unload an on-target throw while seated. This is the same sort of approach Tyler Russell used in December 2011 after a pre-Music City Bowl knee injury, and obviously the 2012 season showed record-setting results for the starting quarterback.
Today the good news for Prescott is he can move as well as ever, as the left big toe is healed. Only an athlete can explain how crippling a turf toe truly is, and for a quarterback especially to come back in six months is impressive. Prescott doesn't take the credit though.
"It just came along with time and being out here with the trainers putting it in, and not slowing down. I put all my trust in them and they got me back 100%" In fact, the recovery proceeded so well that Prescott didn't notice he was physically fine at first.
"Mid-summer, there was one of those times, I don't remember exactly when, I was out here one day throwing routes. I'm dropping back and I'm moving and I'm scrambling and I didn't even realize I have a toe, until somebody says something! So I'm good to go."
The rest of the offense, most of all his elder and encouraging cohort Russell, were glad to have the backup back in live action. Now how did his defensive teammates celebrate Prescott's return to active duty for preseason? Just as a fan of Bulldog football would expect—they attacked him and his throws. On the opening day of camp two of his tosses in 11-on-11 practice were picked off and returned for touchdowns. Welcome back, indeed…yet Prescott welcomed the attitude. Not the results maybe but the attitude.
"That's how it has to be, we're all trying to make each other better. We have some great defensive backs, we might have the best secondary in the country. Throwing against our guys is only going to make me better so I don't ever want them to take a day off."
Bulldog quarterbacks can't take a day off this month either, there's still so much about the offense to be defined and refined. Record-setter Russell has the reins of course yet there is also an expanding role for Prescott that could go beyond his short-yardage and goal-line assignments of 2012.
"I'm going to try to make myself get better every day, and when my number is called go out there and try to make the difference and step up for my team and help them any way I can."
More immediately, both quarterbacks are adapting to a bunch of new starters or just plain new pups at the wide receiver positions. Whether familiar facemasks like Robert Johnson, Joe Morrow, and Jameon Lewis; or all the redshirts and newcomers at the slot and split positions there are lots of connections to make. True, everyone began that process in unofficial summer sessions.
Still practice is another matter entirely, and real games even greater challenges. So these camp days are priceless in developing the throw-and-catch combinations.
"We lost some receivers, but we have some young guys that are very athletic and very big," Prescott said. "They're going to make an advantage when we get the timing right, we perfect each other and we learn each others' routes and everything. So it will be good."
Especially when everyone is up to both physical and mental full-speed. As well as safely outside the Pit. Prescott has been comparing notes with running back Nick Griffin on this and both agree it is not a nice place to visit and definitely nowhere they want to reside again. Ever.
"We always talked, we were in the Pit together in the spring encouraging each other and pushing each other," said Prescott. "We're just trying to get the rust out and we've going to be back to normal."