There’s just something about Mississippi State junior quarterback Dak Prescott. Despite not having overwhelming statistics (10 touchdowns with seven interceptions and a 58.4 completion percentage), or experience, you just get a certain feeling that when he’s behind center there’s not much his offense can’t accomplish.

A natural comparison for him is former Auburn do-it-all QB Cam Newton — who, at times, singlehandedly put the Tigers on his back when some believed his team didn’t match up across the board talent-wise.

The formula was simple: Have Cam convert first downs with his feet, mostly inside power runs, to loosen up coverage out wide for explosive plays. Additionally, rely on a defense that was able to make plays of its own behind one of the better players in the country, defensive tackle Nick Fairley.

Auburn rode that formula all the way to a surprise BCS National Championship, with Newton winning the Heisman Trophy and Fairley collecting accolades along the way as well.

As it pertains to State, Prescott certainly has that type of talent and its defense has numerous candidates to play the Fairley role. This could be a very successful season for the boys in Starkville.

But it all falls on the shoulders of one Mr. Prescott — who has broad enough shoulders that are more than capable of handling whatever that thrown his way.

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The most nostalgic comparison for what Prescott brings to the table is to the iconic Tim Tebow — formerly of the Florida Gators. It’s there where current State head coach Dan Mullen served as offensive coordinator for the two-time BCS National Champions.

Tebow, much like Newton, willed a very talented Gators’ squad to numerous triumphs while snatching victory from the jaws of defeat (I’ve always wanted to write that line).

Mullen showed his brilliance by altering his scheme to fit Tebow’s skill set. With Tebow being the most effective inside runner, he’s designed plays that allowed the bruiser to wear down the middle of defenses much like Auburn emulated a couple of years with Newton — who ironically was a teammate of Mullen and Tebow’s at Florida before transferring.

Present day, Mullen’s signal-caller may be the most effective inside runner.


On this designed QB draw, Prescott showed his value as a runner. A lot of runners lack suddenness and instinct; Dak has no such problem. He reads the block correctly — going opposite the blocking angle — and immediately lets his vision take over from there.

He sets up defenders well by being a step ahead with his eyes. He possesses explosive speed not often seen at the position — running a reported 4.5 40-yard dash.

But at 6’2″, 235 pounds, his size lends itself to the short-yardage game as well.


Here we see Prescott working the power game on early downs. He takes the draw, finds the appropriate gap and get “skinny through the hole.” And once he encounters the middle linebacker, he proceeds to lower the boom (disposing of the would-be defender) and drag a crowd of defenders a few more yards.

You can’t tell me that wasn’t a tone-setter. When the QB handles the ball on virtually every play, and has the ability to bring the pain, you know you’re in for a physical day.

And make no mistake about it; defenders hate to tackle physical runners. Especially those who are adept at getting north/south on runs. But the thing that separated Tebow and  Newton from the rest was their propensity for staying healthy despite their playing styles.

It’s imperative that Prescott takes every snap if State wants to continue its upward trend. An nerve injury to his non-throwing arm caused him to miss two games — one being a close 20-7 loss to Alabama where State was clearly lacking another playmaker — right in the heart of Southeastern Conference play.

But superb mobility is just one part of Precott’s game — albeit a major one.

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For Mississippi State to take the next step in its progression among the elite of the SEC, Prescott has to improve his overall passing ability. Now don’t get me wrong; he has a lot already in his favor: a rocket-launcher for an arm and an ultra-quick release.

He also has the ability to throw on the run, and he can throw from different launch points. But his accuracy fails him periodically due to sloppy mechanics. This is an aspect that’s not lost him — when recently asked what he needs to improve upon.

“The footwork; keeping my feet underneath me, keeping them in sync with my arm and keeping my balance with each and every throw,” Prescott said recently at SEC Media Days (h/t Michael Bonner of The Clarion-Ledger). “I think that’s come a long way. That’s one of the things I wanted to work on this offseason. I believe that was one of my weaknesses last season and now it’s turned into a strength.”


Here’s an example of what he was referring to. As Prescott initially dropped back, his mechanics were on-point: perfect weight distribution, adequate bend in his lead foot and proper plating of his drive leg.

But on the reset he negates all of that. While standing too high on his toes — possibly to get the ball over the linemen — he attempts an “all-arm throw.” While he has the arm to get the throw to his target, there’s very little chance accuracy would come into play.

“I wanted to have more consistent feet, or keeping my feet together,” Prescott said at the Manning Passing Academy (via Lawrence Barreca of The Advocate). “I’ve been a dual-threat quarterback, but my feet can get a little out of hand. I’m working on keeping my feet under me and staying balanced and keeping my shoulders level. If I let my feet tell the story, then I think I’ll get better.”


Here we see Prescott on a play Mullen originally developed for Tebow. His between-the-tackles running ability is to be respected by defenses, that’s the reason he can essentially perform his own play-action fake.

Once he resets from the fake, he shows patience in the pocket and displays great weight distribution before delivering the pass on a rope. He rotated his body and drove off his back leg which put a lot more mustard on the throw.

I have very little doubt that Mullen has drilled the importance of implementing proper technique to Prescott. And with Prescott himself having enough self-awareness to make the necessary corrections, one can only imagine what will be brewing in Starkville this coming season.

One thing we do know: The combination of Mullen and Prescott will be providing defensive coordinators with night sweats for the foreseeable future.