Containing Prescott is key for Rebels to repeat as Egg Bowl champs
Stopping LSU’s Leonard Fournette last Saturday helped Ole Miss notch its fifth win in the Southeastern Conference. But as is the case with most SEC matchups, the Rebels will have another difficult task in front of them this weekend—containing Mississippi State’s senior quarterback, Dak Prescott.
Prescott is arguably having the best season of his career, throwing for 3,159 yards and 23 touchdowns while completing 66.2 percent of his passes (260 for 393) and hurling only three interceptions. His touchdown to interception ratio is far better this season than it was a year ago (27 to 11), and his quarterback rating of 83 is his best since his sophomore season (86.5).
Freeze impressed with Prescott’s abilities, leadership
Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze knows Prescott’s abilities far too well and is impressed with how he leads Mississippi State’s offense, which is averaging 455.91 yards per game. At his weekly press conference, Freeze had nothing but praise for Prescott.
“He strikes me as a guy that has great mental toughness and knows exactly what he wants,” Freeze said about the 6-foot-2, 230-pound dual-threat quarterback. “He will have a plan on how to go about achieving what he wants. He is throwing the ball extremely well. He takes care of it and uses his legs when he needs to.
“I’m not around him, but he strikes me as someone that is determined to be the best that he can be, and I’m certain he is putting in the work to be the best quarterback that he can be for his team. He shows it on the field.”
Rebels hope to repeat 2014 success in containing Bulldogs’ offense
The Rebels (8-3, 5-2) were able to contain Prescott in last season’s 31-17 Egg Bowl victory, holding him to 282 passing yards on 22 of 37 passes and 48 rushing yards on 24 carries. Prescott accounted for both of the Bulldogs’ touchdowns as the running backs were brought to a halt, as well.
Junior running back Ashton Shumpert rushed for 68 yards on 10 carries and Josh Robinson was held to 44 yards on 12 carry attempts. Like the LSU Tigers, Mississippi State (8-3, 4-3) relies on only one playmaker to move the football downfield, and without Prescott the Bulldogs’ offensive game plan could possibly sync.
Ole Miss hopes to have the same success as last year and show Prescott different defensive schemes that he’s not accustomed to seeing, hoping he will then make bad reads with the football. Prescott didn’t turn the football over in last season’s game, but was limited in his explosive plays, averaging only 7.6 yards per pass and two yards per carry.
“Offensively, Dak is playing top notch,” senior cornerback/huskie Mike Hilton said about Prescott, who has nine rushing TD’s this season. “He’s completing a lot of his passes and he’s running the offense well. So, defensively we have to make sure we get to him. What he’s doing this year is that he’s a more accurate passer, he’s better at reading coverages.
“And of course, he does what he does with his legs.”
The Rebels and the Bulldogs face off Saturday at 6:15 p.m. CT on ESPN 2.
Feature image credit: Bentley Breland, The Rebel Walk
Courtney is from Memphis and received his Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts from the University of Memphis in May of 2014. He began his journalism career covering the Memphis Tigers Men’s basketball team, which landed him an intern position on 730 Yahoo Sports Radio and a position with Rivals.com. A freelance writer for the Associated Press, Courtney is also a member of The Rebel Walk team and reports regularly on Ole Miss football and basketball. Courtney, the father of a six-year old girl named Soniyah, prefers to cover NCAA basketball and football, but is happy to report on any other sport that comes his way.