If Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott was not on your Heisman radar before Saturday, he should be now. He’s certainly popping up on the Heisman Trophy lists of plenty of influential media types.
Just filed to http://t.co/Do0GY2YbwU Heisman Watch: 1, Dak Prescott; 2, Todd Gurley; 3, Nick Marshall; 4, Melvin Gordon; 5, Amari Cooper.
— Dennis Dodd (@dennisdoddcbs) October 5, 2014
— Dr. Saturday (@YahooDrSaturday) October 4, 2014
— CollegeFootball 24/7 (@NFL_CFB) October 4, 2014
For the second time in as many games, Prescott abused the defense of a top 10-ranked, SEC West opponent with a dual-threat barrage. In Week 4, it was LSU to the tune of 268 yards passing and two touchdowns with another 105 yards on the ground and a score.
This week, Prescott put up 259 passing and 77 rushing yards with five combined touchdowns in the Bulldogs’ 48-31 romp over Texas A&M.
With Prescott as its catalyst, Mississippi State now has the look of a legitimate SEC contender–which means it’s also a viable national championship contender. Quite the reversal of fortune for a program that has long inhabited the SEC’s basement, and quite the reversal for fortune for a head coach, Dan Mullen, who was dismissed as incapable of winning the big one.
So much for that notion. Two wins over top 10 teams has Mullen’s Mississippi State team on the map. A third in the Bulldogs’ Week 7 showdown with defending SEC champion Auburn could put the unlikely squad from Starkville in the driver’s seat for a College Football Playoff bid.
To credit Dak Prescott exclusively for the Bulldogs’ perfect start would fall into the all-too-common trap of giving too much praise in victory to the quarterback. It’s also a grave disservice to the rest of the Mississippi State roster, especially running back Josh Robinson, whose is averaging 7.5 yards per carry for nearly 600 yards on the campaign.
Mississippi State also has one of the best front sevens in college football, which successfully imposed its will on the Texas A&M offense this past Saturday.
Nevertheless, Dak Prescott is proving to be Mullen’s muse in Starkville. When the coach was hired away from his previous post as offensive coordinator at Florida, Mullen was touted for his offensive acumen.
He helped bring Urban Meyer’s version for one of the earlier spread offenses seen in the SEC to life, and it excelled with Tim Tebow behind center.
Under Mullen’s guidance, Tebow won two SEC and national championships (one each as the Gators’ starting quarterback) and a Heisman Trophy.
With Dak Prescott in the mix for the Heisman, the comparisons to Tebow are going to come–and come they have. George Schroeder of USA Today penned a column drawing the parallel immediately after the Bulldogs’ upset of Texas A&M.
Certainly it’s an easy comparison to make. But it’s not just Mullen’s quarterback-coaching history from which Prescott is drawing his inspiration.
In the offseason, Mullen added former Sugar Bowl-winning Utah quarterback Brian Johnson on staff as Mississippi State’s offensive coordinator.
Johnson captained the Utes’ unexpected run to a perfect record in 2008, which culminated with a complete domination of Alabama in the postseason. Now, he’s imparting some of that experience to Dak Prescott as Mullen discussed after the Texas A&M win via HailState.com:
We have some people, like Brian Johnson, who have been on the biggest stages. He’s helping to coach him as a younger guy too, and was doing the same thing just a short while ago. Their relationship works really well together, so he’ll handle it very well and he knows that all we are is 2-0 in the SEC.
Prescott’s relationship with Johnson speaks to the infrastructure Mississippi State has in place, which frankly will matter as much to the quarterback’s Heisman chances as his own, individual success.