This is the first chance for many of the younger Mississippi State football players to prep for a bowl game.
All of the freshman are gearing up for their first bowl game, and the redshirt freshman are also looking for an opportunity to play.
For redshirt freshman backup quarterback Dak Prescott, this will not be his first bowl game, but it will be the first one he gets some playing time in.
"It will be exciting," Prescott said after Friday's practice. "It's something you work for all year. Everybody wants that chance to play in that extra bowl game no matter if it's the biggest or the smallest. It will be fun. I'm looking forward to it."
Prescott did prep and go to the Music City Bowl last season, but did not play because of his redshirt. The Bulldogs beat the Demon Deacons of Wake Forest 23-17.
MSU is preparing for its second appearance in the past three years in the TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl. The Bulldogs (8-4) face off against No. 21 (Associated Press) Northwestern (9-3) on Jan. 1, 2013.
For Prescott, the first week of bowl practice is a chance for him to hone his skills and continue to improve as a quarterback.
"You need that chance to get better and that extra time," Prescott said.
For MSU head coach Dan Mullen, a bowl game brings much to the table. It means one more game for your team, a chance to boost your name nationally and gives you an opportunity to work a lot of younger guys who did get many reps during the regular season.
"(There's) a lot on Dak," Mullen said of his focus for the early bowl practices. "When people look at it, this is the opportunity. The twos get some reps in practice but this is the week the twos go to ones, and threes go to twos. Everybody gets bumped up and you take guys that have played a lot. We'll let seniors do individual but when we go team and scrimmage and all that stuff, I don't let the seniors do much of that and a lot of the starters will get minimal reps to keep them going. (We will) really let them get healed, let their body get to where they need to be and get our team back playing the way I want to see us playing."
Prescott has gotten his chance in games this season. He has rushed the ball 30 times for 98 yards. He has also put it in the end zone four times on the ground.
He has completed 18-of-28 passes for 194 yards and four touchdowns. He has been given the offense this week and he has adapted well.
"I feel really comfortable," Prescott said. "It's just getting depth, checking plays, getting out of certain plays and getting into something different. I'm real comfortable trying to go to all my receivers and get the connections right."
Prescott and some of the younger guys are showing what the Bulldog squad could look like in a couple of years. With Prescott at signal caller, wide receivers like redshirt freshman Joe Morrow, freshman receiver Fred Brown and sophomore tight end Malcolm Johnson, the future is in good hands.
"It's a good chance for us to bond, get our timing down and get our connections down on each and every play, so when we come into the spring, we are not behind on anything," Prescott said. "It's a good chance for us.
"We have some big guys. Joe Morrow – he's the big body and the big guy you can throw to. Malcolm's always going to have the sure hands. Freddie Brown is a good guy coming up. If we get him locked in, he will make some plays for us."
Of course, there still is junior starting quarterback Tyler Russell. Russell has proven this year that his time has come to lead MSU.
Prescott will have to wait another year to take over, but that same time has served Russell well.
"I expect Tyler to have even a better year next year," Mullen said. "I expect him to take it to another level. Him and Dak working together and pushing each other should be pretty exciting. With Dak, we'll have some packages and stuff ready for him but Dak has done a pretty good job for us this year with the reps that he's gotten. It's comforting. This is a great week right now to really let him to take another step forward in his career."
This week has been all about Prescott stepping forward. Fans can see how he has progressed today at 9 a.m. The Bulldogs will have their final open practice and will host an open scrimmage at Davis Wade Stadium on Sunday at 2 p.m.
"(With) me going with the ones, I can't sit and learn from Tyler each and every rep," Prescott said. "He sits back and he helps me. It's just me being up there (and) being the number one guy right now. Just a chance for me to get good with all receivers and all my guys."