Prescott Energized Again For Orange Bowl

It’s not that he is in a hurry to finish the season, understand. No, after a couple of off-weeks Dak Prescott just wants to get back on a football field for-real and as soon as possible. “I’m healthy, re-energized, and ready to go. Like I said, we could play this Saturday or Sunday if we needed to.”

But the Bulldogs don’t play this weekend. Or the next either. They have a little longer to wait before #7-ranked Mississippi State matches up with #12 Georgia Tech in the Orange Bowl. The programs won’t meet until New Years Eve as part of the inaugural College Football Playoffs bowl system.

So Prescott and company will settle for two more practice days on campus, take their Christmas break, and reassemble December 26 in Miami. And if their star quarterback is this eager to play ball right now, how energized will all the Bulldogs be by kickoff?

Thursday, following the second of four days devoted to game plan installation and practice, Prescott met with media members. Bowl camp was one obvious topic. But so was Prescott’s outlook on potential to turn professional after this junior season, having officially requested a draft round projection from the National Football League.

What have you seen from Georgia Tech’s defense? “They’ve got a good defense. They’re fast, they’re always in the right spots, They cause a lot of turnovers. They’re aggressive and they’re usually right when they’re aggressive. But they’re a good defense, a lot of talent.”

What has phase-two of bowl practice been like? “Just preparing for Georgia Tech, treating it like a normal game. We’re preparing ourselves to be ready to play, what would it be Sunday or Monday (today); we plan on finishing the gameplan Saturday and head home. But, be ready to play if we needed to.”

How important is it to end the season with a win? “Very important. I mean, to me personally it’s not a successful season unless we end it with a win. We’ve done a lot of great things this season, a lot of firsts, I mean a record-breaking season obviously. But without finishing it out with a win, especially after the last game we played, I don’t think it’d be successful. So it’s very important we do that.”

Are you looking at this game as redemption for the Egg Bowl and to get things back on track with the offense? “I guess. It’s very important like I just talked about just to finish the season off the right way. That’s most importantly what’s in our minds, is make sure we finish off the right way and propel ourselves into the off-season with some momentum to bring it over into next season.”

What did you see in the first few bowl practices from the young wide receivers? “We have a lot of talent. Jesse Jackson, Jamoral Graham, we’ve got a lot of guys that have a lot of talent. I mean some young tight ends. And it was very important for them just getting quality reps, and they did that.”

Did you take the chance to coach-up the young quarterbacks, Nick and Damian and Elijah when he was healthy? “Yeah, definitely. They’re coming along well. And just anything I saw I think I could help them, I told them. And just tried to keep their confidence going. I think the most important part of this position is having confidence.”

How much did the Liberty Bowl help this season’s momentum? “A lot. Finishing off with a three-game win streak and (winning) big like we did in the Liberty Bowl gave us momentum, gave us confidence to go into the off-season and know we had something to work for. And know we could get better, we had a lot of talent coming back. And use the games from last season to carry-over into the off-season, get us going. It gave us a kick-start into this season, obviously.”

Have you had a chance to look at your season and evaluate yourself, what you did well and what not? “Yeah. I want to be more consistent, obviously. Start checking the ball down more, as I did earlier in the season. I think I got away from that later on into the season, starting to look to run. And just a bunch of little different things I can obviously do to make myself better. But as a team we did a lot of good things.”

How do you feel physically with a couple of weeks to recuperate? “I’m healthy, re-energized, and ready to go. Like I said, we could play this Saturday or Sunday if we needed to.”

Coach Mullen talked about you, Benardrick, Josh submitting paperwork for the NFL, how seriously are you taking that this point? “I’m not really focused or even paying attention to it right now. I’m just worried about Georgia Tech and getting this Orange Bowl win.”

Do you know when the paperwork is supposed to come back? “I think some of it’s already come back.”

Has it come back for you? “Yeah.”

Have you looked at it? “I haven’t necessarily looked at it but I got Coach Mullen’s input on it.”

You’ll talk more after the bowl, probably? “Yeah, definitely.”

Do you look at the mock draft list of quarterbacks? “Nah, not at all.”

Do you have a mindset what would have to be to leave or comeback, a round in your mind? “I don’t think it’s even any more round or what I feel is best for me, what I feel more comfortable doing.”

Is it a great position to be in, to consider this but also know you have the luxury of the bowl game and coming back? “I guess. It’s a blessing, just to me not play my best ball but to have success. And obviously have that position, that chance that I have. But like you said, still have another year to come back and just improve and get better if I need to.”

What stands out about this season? “It was fun. I mean, it was fun. It was a great ride. It’s a family in this team and it showed it. I mean, just the atmosphere, everything, this town. Going undefeated here at home was special to the players, to the seniors, to the community, to Starkville, and to the school. All I can say is it was a fun year.”

Was there a turning point last year or this year? “Last year the turning point, I always say is losing to Alabama like we did here at home, a tight win. We didn’t have very many healthy guys and we lost to them in the close game. And I think winning three from that point on got us going into this season.”

Not playing in that game, how aware were you of the turning point? “Yeah, just watching, not being healthy and knowing Tyler (Russell) went down and just seeing young guys step up, make plays. Just being real, real close to getting that win, yeah, showed we got a lot of talent and a lot of depth.”

Do you remember where you were, how you found out you were number one? “Yeah, I was actually in Lost Pizza at the time, with my family! We were eating and somebody at the table said something, then to the table left of us decided they should tell us as well. We were like yeah, we kind of know!”

What is like coming here to build a program, and then that moment happens? “Yeah, it’s a blessing just to say I want to do something and put my mind for that and going for it. Like you said being able to accomplish that. I mean that’s just one check-mark on the things to do. But a lot of things left to accomplish and I want to do at Mississippi State and further in life.”


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