Spring Review 2012: Quarterback

Spring football ended nine days ago, and now that I’ve had some time to digest things, I’m beginning a Spring Review series. What I’ll do is look at one position group every day, and I’ll be doing the same thing on my radio show (BulldogSportsRadio.com).

On this morning’s show I talked about quarterbacks, so we’ll start there. As with every position group, I’ll list the relevant players and look at what the spring impressions might mean come fall.

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Projected starter: Tyler Russell, Jr.

Backup: Dak Prescott, R-Fr.

The skinny: For the first time in years, MSU has a clear-cut No. 1 quarterback that it feels really good about in Russell. The 6-foot-4, 220-pounder paid his dues in a shared role the past two seasons, and now he’s got the chance to step in and be a big-time SEC player.

Russell had a strong spring. There were a few stretches in which he had accuracy issues, but on the whole he reminded everybody that he can make all the throws. Russell also made progress as a manager of the offense, something offensive coordinator Les Koenning said is a huge key to Russell’s development as an effective QB. He can hit the deep ball, but he needs to be willing to check down and trust whoever he’s throwing to.

MSU will try to be a more vertical passing team and stretch the field. There will certainly be more passing in general, as Russell is not the running type, as Chris Relf was. And of course, he’s a much better passer than Relf.

Leadership shouldn’t be a problem for Russell, who’s shown plenty of it. He’s got the respect of his teammates, having been playing with them for two seasons already, and they know his skill level will make them effective players.

As for Prescott, he showed a lot of promise this spring. Coaches feel fairly comfortable with him stepping in should Russell get hurt, although that’s obviously not ideal. There will be some packages for Prescott, perhaps in the red zone, and if coaches have enough trust in his passing ability, defenses won’t be able to load up against the run when he enters.

MSU might be a bit thin here, although freshman Nick Schuessler will add some depth when he arrives. But Russell and Prescott alone make the Bulldogs as solid as they’ve ever been at this position under Dan Mullen.