Claims this Mississippi State quarterback is getting back to normal certainly sounds good in Bulldog quarters. The ankle issue arising at Kentucky was talk of the town, with the situation aggravated—literally—during a grueling evening against Arkansas.
But as is Prescott’s way, he directed the Bulldogs to a pair of touchdown drives under all the pressures that come with #1 rankings and the league lead. Now, whether anyone admits it openly or not, Mississippi State has the November opportunity to rest the quarterback and for that matter most of the regulars by taking care of visiting Tennessee-Martin (3:01, Scott Field). Hopefully, early.
Not that Prescott will offer any indication he is taking the OVC-member Skyhawks lightly. Or, that he will abide any advance discussion of the pending showdown at Alabama. Maybe the rest of college football has already marked November 15.
The Bulldog quarterback won’t, nor allow the rest of the squad if he has anything to say about it. Certainly Prescott sells this story with the same efficiency as he does a play-fake on the field.
”It’s simple as we have our gameplan set for UT-Martin. We have to focus on them. They do some different things defensively, throw some different looks. We have to continue to stay focused on who we’re playing this week and not look forward to next week.”
Making this a little simpler too is reviewing the Arkansas results. Prescott is all but kicking himself still over the two first-half interceptions which prevented promising drives. For that matter other series fell short of expectations not just because the Razorbacks gave a good defensive effort.
”We really stepped on our own toes in the beginning. Really all through the game, with some of the drives we didn’t score. We got drives going later in the game, penalties or something forced us back, put us behind the chains.” But not so far the Dog defense couldn’t cope, or the offense find a second-half stride in time.
Which ultimately is all that is asked of a top-tier quarterback for the nation’s top-ranked football team, a description Prescott prefers focus far more on the latter. He called his two turnovers “stupid plays that I can’t make.” Yet the maturity showed with Prescott shaking it off at the time and keeping the team on track. “Just continue to be myself. Don’t worry about those, move on. And I never look back at the play before.” Or not until game review, where Prescott works on eliminating such stuff in the future.
Plus, he now has eight whole games worth of material to evaluate himself. The trick though is, as he said, not letting either good or bad impact his scouting for a new week.
“I treat each game the same. I treat every practice the same as if it’s a game. I try to get better. Looking at other teams the same, no matter who they are, and do all the same things.”
Even a UT-Martin? Yes, Prescott will keep the focus. It does help a little that he wants to brush-up a few items in advance of the closing SEC stretch. How many snaps Coach Dan Mullen gives, now, that is another matter. Not only can Prescott use a little rest, sophomore Damian Williams has not taken a snap since September 13.
This is an ideal week to get the Bulldog backup some real work again to both rest the starter and have Williams ready for potential need. Just as happened last November, it’s easy to remind now.
“He’s been progressing great,” Prescott said of the understudy. “He gives our defense great looks at the end of practice going against the ones. He does a good job of that taking the reps with the number twos throughout the game plan. He’s ready for his opportunity, he’s read for any moment. Everybody knows he’s a play away and he’s ready.”
Speaking of getting guys ready… While last game showed there is still potential for a freshman to play, when linebacker J.T. Gray was activated for special teams, most redshirting decisions are made now. State certainly intends playing out the 2014 season with Prescott and Williams.
“Those are two really talented guys. I think they’re way beyond my level of play as I was at that age. I think they have a lot of athleticism and will be good. And they’re really quick learners. I’m excited to see what they have to offer in the future.”
Which Prescott applies to the entire rookie class, for that matter, as he hangs around after the Sunday practice to watch redshirts take their own turns. “I watch all of them, I mean the defense is unbelievable. All the guys we’ve redshirted, the true freshmen all the way to offense. We’ve got some good guys that are really dangerous and will be weapons in the future.”
For now, it’s all about UT-Martin. And much as Prescott could use some down-time, the visiting team is bringing a familiar face back to campus in alternate quarterback Dylan Favre. The former Bulldog was more than a teammate, briefly, with Prescott.
“He was my roommate, he’s a great friend. I still talk to him and his family every now and then. So that will be cool. I haven’t talked to him this season but I did in off-season, talked about us playing.”
And yes, whatever the pleas from a fan base frantic to have their quarterback healthy for next week…Dak Prescott will start and play this home game. “I’m feeling great, ready to go this week.”