By MICHAEL WARDLAW
The Mississippi State Bulldogs have now wrapped up the first phase of bowl preparation.
During Friday night's scrimmage at Davis Wade Stadium, it was the Dak Prescott show for the Bulldogs.
MSU football coach Dan Mullen said prior to the scrimmage the freshman was going to get an opportunity and Prescott made sure he made the most of his shot.
Prescott threw for over 400 yards and a couple of scores during the scrimmage that mostly feature the freshmen and redshirt freshmen.
“He got a ton of reps,” said Mullen. “It was a great opportunity for him, especially going into the stadium. One of the things is he gets to see how much he has to work on and how many reps he needs before he’s going to be ready to go play in the game.”
“I’m a little tired and my leg is a little hurt, but it was fun to get to go out there and get to play with all my friends and teammates," Prescott said. "It was good to play under the lights.”
And while he did steal the show with his performance, Mullen knows he isn’t where he needs to be in order to take the field just yet.
“Decision-making has got a long way to go but he has a great one, two (combination)," Mullen said. "He’s has high-energy, high-motor, tough, shows leadership while he is out there on the field. “He’s got to learn the skill and decision-making of the quarterback position which that’s going to take some time. He made a lot of nice plays out there tonight but there are some other things he’s got to get better at in decision-making when you’re out there on the field.”
The new twist to the Bulldog offense that was easily noticed was the increased tempo of the offense. Mullen was quick to point out that it wasn’t by design, it’s just how Prescott moves the team.
“We keep it pretty simple and when we keep it simple we get to going a little faster I think,” said Mullen. “There was no decision to try to go fast today. I think Dak likes to go fast and he’s just kind of that way.”
The Bulldogs have been searching for a receiver who could be a difference maker.
On Friday night, they may have very well found their man in the form of 6-foot-4 Joe Morrow.
Simply put, he made plays all night long.
Morrow displayed the ability to go up and attack the football and then made moves in the open field. He’s a big target and that’s just what Prescott was looking for.
“He’s a big target and I like that,” said Prescott who hit Morrow for a 42-yard strike early in the scrimmage. “It is good to have a 6-4 guy out there that’s got some strong hands and can run after he gets the ball.”
There was a point in time when the Bulldogs considered pulling Morrow’s redshirt opportunity this season and it is easy to see why the thought weighed so heavily on their minds.
“It is one of those deals that if they gave us five years of eligibility, there would be some more kids playing and it would be a great opportunity," Mullen said. "I think Joe would be playing here in the later part of the season and getting some experience and getting some reps on the field here and there.
“But you’re not going to take away a year of eligibility for him to get 40 plays during a season. It is good for him to see him out there. He’s starting to develop and we think he is going to be a great playmaker for us next year.”
Historically speaking, the Bulldogs have been a running program.
James Johnson, Michael Davis, Jerious Norwood, Anthony Dixon, and Vic Ballard have all made their mark on the program in recent years. Those on hand for the scrimmage saw that’s not going to change with newcomers Nick Griffin and Josh Robinson.
“Guys like Nick and Josh Robinson really ran the ball a lot this week so they were a little beat up and bruised up and we still made them go run the ball,” said Mullen. “So they got some experience with that.
“Josh now understands what it is going to take next year I think after this week. He took a good beating this week. Nick, I still don’t think he’s back at 100 percent and even if he’s close to 100 percent health, he’s still got to get the confidence and this spring, I think he’ll get that confidence back.”
Up next, Wake Forest
Today, the Bulldogs turned their attention to the Demon Deacons of Wake Forest as they will begin to implement the gameplan for the Music City Bowl.
State will spend the next four days holding their ‘on campus’ game week preparations which will conclude on Tuesday. The Bulldogs then take a break for Christmas and open phase three of preparation in Nashville on December 26.
As for Mullen’s thoughts on his opponent, he expects the ball to be in the air a lot.
“They throw the ball all over the place,” said Mullen. “I mean you look at them and they throw it for 270 yards a game or something like that. They are kind of different from what I’ve seen of them in the past when they were big run-oriented team, they are a pass first offense."