Gene Swindoll, Gene's Page

Will Dak Go The Ground Route This Week?

To tote or not to tote? That was the post-opener question after Dak Prescott rushed just eight times at Southern Mississippi. Or technically seven times since he did take a seven-yard sack, cutting his total gains to 72 yards. That still was tops on the team.

It also reminded that Prescott remains Mississippi State’s best threat on the ground, until others truly step forward. Yet for months Dan Mullen has stressed limiting how many carries this quarterback makes…and how much contact he takes.

“I’m not sure if it was planned for me not to run the ball,” Prescott said of opening night. “The way the game was going I didn’t have to run the ball much. When I did on some of those called plays it was effective.”

Take away that sack and Prescott averaged over 11 yards per attempt, skewed of course by a 49-yard burst. His last rush also went for a seven-yard touchdown, and this was not a read Mullen said.

“I think we called two quarterback runs, and he scored on one,” the coach said.

Mullen said there were a number of option plays in game-one where Prescott could have tucked and toted, but most became handoffs. Plus, with Ashton Shumpert and Brandon Holloway making good gains there wasn’t much need to call keepers.

This approach will almost surely have to adjust in week-two. Louisiana State is an entirely different defensive proposition, especially at the line of scrimmage. Taking away the standard ground game is a Tiger trump card…

…but historically running quarterbacks have been effective against this program. Prescott showed how last year after LSU seemed to have turned momentum around by scoring after the Bulldog quarterback turned it over. On the next series Prescott went on a 56-yard highlight scamper for touchdown that sent State on its way to victory.

Prescott came out of Baton Rouge with 373 yards total offense, including two touchdown passes. Mississippi State clearly would prefer he throw the ball that way again, and hand off to other Dogs to take the damage.

But in a showdown sort of matchup best players have to win. And Prescott is Mississippi State’s best player. If he has to run early and often, so be it.

“It’s whatever the defense is giving us, we’re going to take,” Mullen said. “If they’re going to make him run the ball he’s going to run it. If they take his runs away, other guys will run the ball for us.”

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