Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen said Monday that the concussion QB1 Tyler Russell suffered during the season-opening loss to Oklahoma State would likely keep him sidelined this week.
Russell’s absence means QB2 Dak Prescott is the most likely player to get this week’s start against Alcorn State.
This week marks a great opportunity for Prescott, who took the helm after Russell left with the concussion. He completed just 7 of 17 passes for 89 yards and an INT.
Prescott led two drives in the fourth quarter of a game well out of hand. On one, he led the Bulldogs into field-goal range before K Devon Bell missed a 32-yard field goal. The sophomore again drove into Oklahoma State territory on his other drive before he threw an interception from the 31.
Prescott can now look ahead toward his first collegiate start.
Don’t let the eight opening-weekend FCS upsets of FBS teams fool you. Even if RB LaDarius Perkins just takes direct snaps all day, Alcorn State is no threat to the Bulldogs this week.
What Prescott can do this weekend is give Mullen options.
Russell will be cleared to play again at some point – perhaps even before the Auburn game in two weeks. The way he played against Oklahoma State, though, compared far closer to the final six games of the year than the first seven when the Bulldogs started 7-0.
The senior was supposed to take a massive step forward in 2013. It’s not too late for him to do so, but the opener showed progression only in spots. For every throw he made like the third-and-10 on the first drive, he made more like the third-down pass in the flat that he lofted so much that Oklahoma State could deliver a huge hit on Perkins.
This week is Prescott’s chance to stake a claim for the starting job – to establish himself as Mississippi State’s quarterback of the future.
Prescott playing well wouldn’t mean he would become the full-time starter in 2013. It wouldn’t even mean he would get series outside of garbage time.
It could, though.
Once Russell gets healthy, he could be under a different pressure if Prescott performs at a high level. That’s where Mullen having options comes in to play.
Russell could absolutely start in two weeks against Auburn and light up the Tigers to help State correct course. He could also come back and play like he did last week – when Oklahoma State realized all it had to do was slow Perkins and the run game.
Mullen wants to build on the eight-win season from a year ago. To do so, he must get better, more consistent play from his quarterback.
That doesn’t mean that starter has to be Russell.
Prescott can assert himself as a viable option with a great week of practice and a better performance in this week’s game.