Prescott: "We've Still Got A Shot"

He hadn’t seen the ranking himself, but had heard the word en route to Tuesday’s media meeting. Good word, too, about Mississippi State staying in the College Football Playoff rankings top-four. “They ranked Alabama #1, I’m guessing,” Dak Prescott said. “So our only loss is to the #1 team right now. We hate to have a loss but to anybody the #1 team is the best way to go.”

In rankings, Prescott meant. The season? There’s plenty of that still left to go play. While Mississippi State doesn’t completely control its fate in either the Southeastern Conference or Playoff picture now the Bulldogs can keep strengthening their status for both with remaining regular-season games against Vanderbilt and Ole Miss.

As long, that is, as #4 State takes no more losses. Prescott and club have had two days of work for Saturday’s home-field finale with the Commodores (6:39, SEC Network). First, though, came an intense review of what went wrong at Alabama for State’s first defeat…and what was right and can be put to better use in the weeks ahead.

What did you think of your day at Alabama and what has to improve? “There are a lot of ups and downs. A little bit just random, too quick of decisions, not smart decisions. Just to get back to myself and continue to go through my reads, go through my progressions. Not necessarily be too quick to run the ball or start scrambling; just keep my feet underneath me, move a little bit in the pocket and keep my eyes downfield.”

After facing Arkansas and Kentucky did a tough defense like Alabama show the offense things to work on? “I mean both those defenses before Alabama were good teams and good defenses. But I think Alabama is a good defense as well. But I still think it’s just self-mistakes, particularly on my part; just things I’ve got to improve and we as a team can improve on. And not necessarily drastic changes we have to make.”

How eager are you to get back on the field? “Very eager. I was excited to go back to practice Sunday and today, and of course get back on the field tomorrow. Not jumping ahead to Saturday, I know we have another couple of days of preparation and just focusing on that to get ready for this weekend.”

How do you avoid looking at the standings and comparing resumes? “I mean it really doesn’t matter. We can’t control it so me looking is not going to change anything or what I say is not going to change anything. So it really doesn’t matter. But it’s good respect, it’s good hearing we’re still #4, we’re in the playoffs. So we’ve still got a shot at the national championship and that’s what we’re going to move forward to do.”

As quarterback you want to be careful but you also let instincts take over, how tough is it to balance those things? “I know when it’s necessary. I know when it’s necessary to go make a play or go put yourself out there, throw the ball in a certain coverage and take shot rather than a first down, second down. Just play smart, throw the ball away, do what you’ve got to do.”

Is there less pressure this week after the build up to Alabama? “I don’t know. I really don’t pay attention or feel the pressure, I guess you could say. So it’s not the pressure, if it’s anything. But it’s a good self-motivation, a good thing to motivate the rest of the team, motivate me, motivate the coaches, everybody in this facility to taking that first loss, get us back going. I mean kind of like starting the season back over. We’ve got something not necessarily to prove but to move forward and get better from.”

What do you see from Vanderbilt’s defense? “They’re a good team. They do some good things and they get in an odd front, kind of some different looks. But they’re a good team, they’re disciplined, but we’ve just got to continue to play our game and just improve from last week.”

De’Runnya Wilson told us how raw he was coming here, what have you seen in his growth at wide receiver? “He’s taken a huge jump, huge strides of getting better. Becoming a better receiver, knowing the defense, knowing his triangle reads from the receiver spot and how to get open. And using his body. Yeah, he’s come a long way.”

Do you have to remind him he’s contributing when not catching passes? “I don’t necessarily have to remind him. He loves blocking, he loves doing things. But maybe a little here and there just get in his ear (to) stay focused. It never hurts somebody to tell somebody and encourage him a little bit. I mean I need to hear it sometimes, everybody does.”

It was a unique play when you had to leave the Alabama game for the helmet, how ready was Damian Williams for that? “Oh, yeah. He was ready. I tried to slide the helmet back on like nothing happened, like nobody saw that, like I was sneaky! But yeah, I had to come out. But Damian was ready to come in and do what he had to do.”

How did you assess your play? “Like I said, there was some good, there was some bad. I just got a little too excited to run in some cases, and running lanes weren’t really there and I had to set up and make a pass instead of keeping my feet underneath me, moving in the pocket, some things I’ll clean up. Easy things to get fixed.”

Are teams focusing more on stopping you in the running game than Josh? “I mean you can control a little bit more on what you’re doing from the running back position, stopping the running back I’m saying. I think they’ve been keying in on that a little bit. But I just have to run harder, the offensive line come off the ball and we’ll be fine and we can get that back going with no problem.”

How do you deal with the up-and-down Heisman Trophy candidate talk? “I guess it’s a little hard to push to the side. You go to a convenience store and somebody is telling you they want you to win it. I mean, after you throw three interceptions in a game; ‘have you not paid attention?’! I really don’t pay attention to that, don’t put my mind too much on that. Just worry about winning. The loss hurt more than the drop in the Heisman, whatever that is. Just move forward, I care more about the team wins, then if I get that I’m happy.”


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