Mississippi State saw some unfortunate circumstance unfold in their opening ball game of the season against Oklahoma State win fifth-year senior quarterback Tyler Russell went down with a concussion. Fans weren't sure what to make out of the situation only that Dak Prescott added more to the running game but was lacking on starting experience. In the last two weeks, Prescott has proved that he can manage things just fine accumulating over 600 yards of offense on the season, more than doubling his totals from a year ago.
"We did some good things we've just got to finish on the smaller things, but we did some good things in the game," Prescott said of his team's heartbreaking loss last week. "I did okay, but like I said, I'm not going to be satisfied with the loss," Prescott said. "I put that all on me being the leader and the quarterback. There's some things I did well but there's some smaller things that we've got to get better at."
Those little things are the difference in a 3-0 start and where the team sits now at 1-2. Prescott said it's about correcting those and moving on to the next big challenge.
"I've replayed a lot of the game over and over but it's a new week so now I've just got to let it go, put it aside and get ready for Troy."
Moving on is something that will be the biggest challenge for this young team of just 13 seniors. The locker room was silent as we awaited the postgame media availability following the loss. Emotions were high and the team is now faced with the challenge of winning ball games to get another bad taste out of their mouth.
"It was just a dagger. We were right there, so close, and for it to be taken away like that it hurt," Prescott said. "There's some things I could have done better, better reads, but that's throughout the week and we'll get better at that."
His Head Coach was at a loss for words trying to describe the atmosphere that Prescott and his teammates endured following the game but he likes the way they responded emotionally and hopes it translates to the field on Saturday.
"I think the team's starting to develop their personality a little bit and I think this is a good week to test that development. The attitude in the locker room after the game- I was extremely upset after the game and our players were extremely upset after the game- I think was a good thing.," Dan Mullen said. For what happened, I liked the look and the emotion and the feeling that the guys had. That's the response that I wanted from them and we got that. Not wanting to be in that situation we were in Saturday, I liked how they reacted after the game. There were a lot of guys that were devastated. They wanted to win that game. You could see there were some guys that were hurt that we didn't win. A lot of guys will point fingers but you didn't see that. You saw a team of guys that, as a whole, everybody felt great disappoint. I want to see how we respond today."
Despite the criticism of conservative play-calling Prescott, Mullen and the rest of the team was hearing in the fourth quarter, Mullen called for a fourth down play in his own territory with a three-point lead trying to seal the game. He put his ultimate trust in Prescott and the sophomore converted. State has had some success in those situations converting 7-of-12 and Prescott enjoys the assurance his coach has in him.
"It's good to be aggressive that means he trusts us," Prescott said of fourth downs. "He trusts the guys up front and trusts us to get the job done."
Prescott could have the trust put in him 100% for another week if Russell is not back for a third-consecutive week. He mentioned that he's going about his week just like he would any other week, as the starter.
"I expect him to be back," Prescott said of Russell. "If he is or he isn't, I'm going to be prepared and get ready."
Mullen has faith that Russell will be back in the fold soon, but whether he's cleared or not he wants to see his quarterback back in regular form on the field first.
"I want to see, if Tyler (Russell) is cleared, how he performs and how does he perform in practice for us. Is he as sharp as I want him to be when he gets cleared? If that's the case then he's good to go. Anybody can lose their job at any time. I have tremendous faith in Tyler and he's won some games for us and is our starting quarterback but we want to always train our guys. I like having multiple quarterbacks because you feel pretty comfortable with guys being in that situations ready to go play. I've never had a quarterback controversy in all my year's coaching. I've never had a tailback controversy, linebacker controversy or any of those. Within our (program), you do your job and what's asked of you to do."
State has prepared for a high-powering offense to combat no matter the quarterback and knows that the challenge is there. Prescott watched from the sidelines last year and saw a team that is capable of beating anyone no matter the conference.
"They're good football team, they're sound. They've got some experience up front and they'll be ready to play," Prescott said of Troy. "They played us tough. It didn't matter what conference they were in, they were ready. They have big plays, you just have to capitalize off of that and hopefully we'll do that this year."