Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott (15) listens to his coach Dan Mullen during the first half of an NCAA college football game against LSU in Starkville, Miss., Saturday, Sept. 12, 2015. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
Rogelio V. Solis
September 15, 2015

Mississippi State's Dak Prescott jumped to the forefront of the Heisman Trophy discussion last season by becoming one of the best dual-threat quarterbacks in the nation.

So far in 2015, there's a lot less duality to his game.

Prescott hasn't played poorly, especially when throwing. He's completed 62.2 percent of his passes for 570 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions through two games, making him one of the Southeastern Conference's most productive quarterbacks.

But the 6-foot-2, 230-pound Prescott - who was so effective last year as a bruising runner on read-option plays - has been noticeably reluctant to run in 2015. The pass-run disparity was huge in Saturday's 21-19 loss to LSU: Prescott threw for 335 yards but actually lost 19 yards in the running game.

By contrast, Prescott ran for 105 yards in last year's upset win over the Tigers.

Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen said Prescott's pass-heavy start isn't necessarily by design. It's just a result of the senior becoming better at reading defenses, staying in the pocket and taking what the defense is giving.

''Looking back, I think there were a couple of times that he could have scrambled, but I also think there are a couple of times that he used to scramble where he stayed in the pocket and made throws,'' Mullen said. ''I think it is just that fine line of back and forth.''

Without Prescott running, the Bulldogs' ground game has been one of the worst in the SEC, ranking 13 out of 14 teams at 124 yards per game.

That's not all Prescott's fault, of course. Mississippi State lost last year's starting running back Josh Robinson to the NFL and his replacement Ashton Shumpert hasn't been nearly as productive. There are also three new starters on the offensive line.

The revamped line was pushed around early against LSU's talented defensive line. The Tigers jumped out to a 21-6 lead in the second half, but the Bulldogs' looked much better up front when scoring two fourth-quarter touchdowns that helped make the game close at the end.

One of those touchdowns was scored on a 1-yard Prescott run.

''We didn't need to make adjustments,'' Mullen said. ''We just needed to execute better and to not worry. We made silly mistakes in the first half as we went back and looked at it. These are younger kids still. They are out there on a field in a crazy environment, late at night on a Saturday and national television. They have to learn how to handle those situations.''

Mississippi State (1-1, 0-1 SEC) has a non-conference game against Northwestern State (0-2) on Saturday before jumping back into conference play with back-to-back road games against Auburn and Texas A&M.

Mullen says Mississippi State has plenty of adjustments to make this week, but wasn't necessarily certain that pushing Prescott to run would be one of them.

''I don't mind throwing it,'' Mullen said. ''I just want to score points and move the ball.''


AP College Football website: www.collegefootball.ap.org . Follow David Brandt on Twitter at www.twitter.com/davidbrandtAP

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