Which he reports has involved investing ever more hours in the film room, in the playbook, and just plain talking football with his coaches and his cohorts. On this score Prescott reports progress.
"Just the knowledge of the game. I'm comfortable with every aspect of the offense and the playbook, it's just my reads and my defenses. And I've gotten a lot better at that."
The ‘getting better' also applies to that foot, or specifically toe, which he damaged not long after reporting back to campus this calendar year. Badly enough to require surgery for the crippling turf toe condition, which has since entailed a grueling recovery schedule. In fact, Prescott has at times been told to put the ‘boot' back on during some preseason sessions just for protection.
As training camp wrapped up and initial game-week routines began, Prescott was reporting improvement. And at Sunday's ‘Beefing Up the Bulldogs' dinner he was walking around without any noticeable gimpery…though he was also wise enough not to participate in any hay bale-tossing competition and risk either the healed foot or his passing arm.
"I'm ready," Prescott said. "I'm about 100% ready to go. They're just doing a good job of limiting some things I can do. It's really just getting out there, getting comfortable, getting my feet back under me and enjoying being out there with my teammates."
All indications are Prescott indeed is enjoying this preseason. Getting the proverbial cleats wet in real college competition will do that for a fellow. Last fall he got into a dozen games, usually in short-yardage or goal-line settings but a few times got to stay there and run things. Naturally he was best at the specific situations whether producing first downs or touchdowns (three of each passing and rushing).
This has given a better perspective which Prescott has applied to preparing for the sophomore season. Put another way, having done it for-real against a hostile defense has helped him apply instruction that much more effectively. Not, it needs noting, that his own Bulldog defense takes it easy on anyone.
"Every bit of it goes onto the field," Prescott said. "Getting in the film room you learn something. It just depends on how you go out there and develop it on the field. I think I've done a good job of taking stuff from the film room to the field."
He surely would have done it even better if not for that spring semester setback, which limited Prescott to throwing passes from a stool. He threw pretty darned well too, thanks to a strong right arm which allowed him more range on routes than would have been expected. Ironically Prescott was following in the, ahem, footsteps of senior Tyler Russell who himself had to practice for the Music City Bowl a year before from the same stool after a December '11 knee injury. Last season's results and records show Russell made the most of that situation, so presumably Prescott can benefit as well.
In fact, "Being in the chair actually helped me a lot," he says. "Now it's putting two and two together."
Speaking of ‘two'… There's no question Prescott is second Dog in the quarterback kennel. Well, as far as the depth chart is concerned. Russell is the rightful starter and leader of the 2013 offense. What is interesting though is how the #1 brushes aside any suggestion his younger teammate is a #2.
"I said something the other day about being the backup quarterback," said Prescott. "Tyler said you're not the backup quarterback, you're the other quarterback." Now this doesn't mean Russell is giving away snaps this senior season, much less his top Dog status. But it does reflect the starter's appreciation of how valuable a reliable and confident alternate can be at this level of the game. Remember, it was in 2011 at Legion Field when Russell was summoned in the second half to rally those shut-out to then Bulldogs past UAB with three touchdowns. Had Russell not prepared to play just as seriously as then-starter Chris Relf had, State would have been headed for a devastating loss.
So no wonder the older quarterback has made it his own priority to have Prescott primed for action at any point, any situation. As Prescott said, "We don't think about playing time. We're brothers and it goes beyond the field, so we push each other to be great. If he messes up I'm going to let him know and vice-versa. It's just about pushing each other and getting better."
Or, about Russell pushing Prescott to see himself as The Quarterback, of staying as much into the on-field activity as if he were calling the plays. Something else Prescott has picked up, "Just the swagger of being a quarterback. How to carry yourself as a quarterback on and off the field, how to lead and just to be a big-time quarterback."
Now any confident quarterback will have some sense of swagger. Even Russell, who seems soooo low-key at times. Prescott and others report their peer isn't nearly so cool and collected around the locker room, and that his dance moves could stand some further practice. Allegedly. Anyway, Louisianan Prescott is another sort of personality, and admits his issue is dialing back on the adrenalin. "You've got to relax and take play after play. You can't get too excited off the last play, you just have to go one step at a time. I'm trying to do that, I think I'm doing a good job of slowing it down."
When he's under-center, he means. In the bigger picture Prescott is speeding up his development as a college quarterback, for both this season's needs and next year's opportunities.
"I think that comes from the film room and the knowledge of the game. Being more comfortable at that I think is going to help me getting on the field more and getting more playing time."
The Bulldogs do not have a Monday practice as fall semester classes began. The on-field work resumes Tuesday as Mississippi State polishes up the last items from training camp, start settling some depth charts for the fast-approaching season, and turn team attention to their August 31 opener.