Egg Bowl X factor: Bulldogs’ red-zone whiz threat with arm, legs

By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal

STARKVILLE – Dak Prescott could play the role of Chris Relf in Saturday’s Egg Bowl.
Prescott, No. 25 Mississippi State’s backup quarterback, has similar size (6-foot-2, 230 pounds) and is just as much a threat with his legs as Relf was when he was leading the offense.
In the last three Egg Bowls – all MSU wins – Relf totaled 246 rushing yards as Ole Miss struggled to defend the option game.
Could we see Prescott, a redshirt freshman, used in a similar fashion in Oxford on Saturday?
“There may be a little bit here and there, but like you said, Relf did a good job in the past of running the ball on them,” Prescott said. “We expect to have some plays in the running game, but we’re going to have to be balanced and just perform what we can do.”
The Bulldogs aren’t giving much away about their game plan, but given their past success with the quarterback run game versus Ole Miss, there would seem to be an opportunity for Prescott.
That’s especially likely given his increased role over the last few weeks.
The Haughton, La., native has rushed for 104 yards and four touchdowns this season. He’s also flashed his arm, completing 15 of 22 passes for 159 yards and three scores.
Prescott has accounted for four TDs in SEC play, including all three passing scores. He usually makes an appearance in short-yardage and red zone situations.
In last week’s 45-14 win over Arkansas, Prescott entered and, on a fourth-and-1, bulled over a safety en route to a 4-yard touchdown run. That gave State a 24-14 lead in the third quarter.
“Dak’s the money man,” said tight end Marcus Green, who’s caught two of Prescott’s TD passes. “He makes plays. Not only to me, he gets in there himself. You can’t stop him.”
Tailback LaDarius Perkins compared Prescott to former Florida quarterback Tim Tebow, whom MSU coach Dan Mullen tutored as the offensive coordinator in Gainesville.
“He has a lot of heart, he shows great passion on the field also. We’re always going to have plays for Dak,” Perkins said.
One hit away
As the only backup QB on scholarship, Prescott is one hard hit away from stepping in for starter Tyler Russell.
That’s why coaches made a point of getting Prescott involved early and often this season, and a high level of trust has developed between him and the rest of the team.
For example, in the second quarter against Texas A&M – with MSU trailing 21-0 – Prescott entered on a third-and-5 from the Aggies’ 33-yard line and ran for 15 yards.
“We know when he’s on the field, a play is going to be made,” Perkins said. “Either it’s running or passing. He can get the job done, and all of us have confidence in him.”
brad.locke@journalinc.com