By Logan Lowery
STARKVILLE – For most teams, an injury to the starting quarterback in the opening game of the season would be devastating.
When fifth-year senior Tyler Russell suffered a concussion against Oklahoma State, Mississippi State barely missed a beat over the next three games.
Sophomore Dak Prescott took the reins of the Bulldog offense and dazzled the fan base and opposing defenses with his playmaking ability. Prescott won two of his starts in Russell’s absence, compiling 826 yards of offense and nine touchdowns.
“I stayed calm throughout the games and kept my composure,” Prescott said. “But there’s still a lot of things that I can do better.”
Even though Russell was not cleared to play, he did his best to help Prescott where and when he could.
“I knew my job was the help Dak from the sidelines,” Russell said. “I’d see things that he didn’t see on the backside of the play, and I’d tell him. That’s how we’ve always been.”
Russell returned for the LSU game, and the two have split time behind center since.
Prescott started the LSU and Kentucky games, while Russell got the nod against Bowling Green. The two have even been shown together on the jumbotron prior to kickoff stating in unison, “We are your starting quarterbacks.”
The dual quarterback rotation has worked out quite well for both signal callers in the past three games. Prescott continues to put up strong statistics, with 741 yards of offense and six touchdowns, while Russell has completed 20 of 27 passes (74.1 percent) for 258 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions since returning from his concussion.
“It really doesn’t matter which one of us is in there,” Prescott said. “We try to learn off of each other. We try to help each other and make each other better to help the team win.”
Having two capable quarterbacks has not only increased their production during games but also the competition level at practice.
“You’ve got two guys that can play,” said MSU offensive coordinator Les Koenning. “Competition is great. When they get out there they don’t want to mess up. You have to be on your game. There’s somebody on the bench right behind you that can play, too. When you create depth at a position, that’s a coaches’ best ally.”
Both quarterbacks have done their part and have MSU on pace for its best offensive season in school history. The Bulldogs are averaging 456 yards per game, which would shatter the record average of 422 set in 1982 under Emory Bellard.