Steve Robertson -

Bulldog Quarterback Scores Fourth League OPotW Award

Maybe he’s been playing with a lower sort of profile this season. At some point though Dak Prescott’s sheer efficiency was sure to attract attention. The Southeastern Conference turned their spotlight his way today, naming Mississippi State’s quarterback the league Offensive Player of the Week.

This is the fourth time for Prescott to receive the league’s OPofW recognition, naturally a program record. And records are what the senior triggerman keeps piling up with every new week and win.

The SEC tabbed Prescott following arguably the most efficient effort of his amazing MSU career. He was 25-of-35 passing for 348 and three touchdowns; while balancing the Bulldog offense with 117 rushing yards and three more scores.

The last league player to account for six touchdowns in a day was Cam Newton in the 2010 SEC championship game. The last Bulldog to do it? That was a few years earlier. As in 1952 when legendary Jackie Parker also rushed for three touchdowns and threw for three.

Big ground gains were a bigger part of Prescott’s plans the first half of 2014. Mid-season-on he dialed back on running plays to focus on throwing and distributing, and that trend continued into this senior season. Not least because defenses don’t want Prescott running wild like last year.

The result? “Dak is going to take what they give him,” Coach Dan Mullen said. Which means going to the air earlier and oftener with excellent results. Prescott’s 66.5% passing through eight games is well-ahead of his 61.5% last season when he set that program record. The scoring count is a little down but that is more the fault of State having a lop-sided lack of possession time and series to play with.

Against Kentucky now, Prescott has flashed the September/October 2014 form with footwork. “It was just something I wanted to do,” Prescott said. “And I want to do going forward.” It was his first 100-yard rushing game since Auburn last year, a stretch of 14 contests.

“We called a couple of designed runs,” Mullen said. “A couple of them were his. His last touchdown (a 18-yard bolt up the middle) was a simple a zone-read play, nobody had him and he took off running.”

“It was honestly a weird look,” Prescott said. “I don’t think anyone has left the box open like that ever against me. I quickly changed to that play.”

Is Prescott changing back to the ’14 Dak Attack? Mullen won’t go that far. “I still think we’re way under where we used to be for designed runs. But it was good to see him get those. What I was really happy with were some of the explosive runs. He saw some lanes, and he took some scrambling.”

Prescott continues scrambling record list, not just the Bulldog book either. In the last 15 seasons only Johnny Manziel and Tajh Boyd have posted games of 300 passing yards/100 rushing yards with an even split of six touchdowns. With four regular season and a bowl game still ahead, Prescott has 96 touchdowns to his account rushing, throwing, and receiving. That’s sixth-most in SEC history, and top-five status needs just five more scores of any sort.

He also has the third-most rushing yards ever by a SEC quarterback with an excellent chance of surpassing former Razorback Matt Jones in November.

Make no mistake, the passing game will still have Prescott’s priority moving forward. His efficient arm and a gifted group of receivers make this the strength of State’s offense. Nor is Prescott relaxing pressure on everyone to stay as sharp as he is. “Dak sometimes throws a ball in practice even when it’s not his guy,” Mullen said. “Just to make sure everyone is paying attention.”

But by bringing back the ground-pounder Prescott, defenses will have to again pay attention to Bulldog rushing plays.

Record-keepers and –watchers won’t have to add up more numbers for a while. Mississippi State is in its only bye-week, with the next game on Thursday November 5 at Missouri. The Bulldogs are off Monday and will practice the next three days before taking a quick break.

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