Heading into the 2014 season, no other SEC team has as great of a chance as Mississippi State to have a breakthrough season. Many players return, but none that are more instrumental than their dual-threat quarterback that has been receiving an increasing amount of recognition this off-season: Dak Prescott.
The incoming junior is coming off of a strong sophomore showing in which he combined for 23 touchdowns and 2769 yards. More impressive was the fact that he only threw 7 interceptions and only allowed opponents to sack him 8 times all season. But most impressive is how Prescott and Mississippi State closed the season, with an overtime win over rival Ole Miss followed by a bowl victory over Rice.
Throughout last season, Coach Mullen gradually increased his trust in Prescott, allowing him to take over the offense with tenacity; I fully expect that this faith in Prescott will keep growing in the summer, so that he can continue his end-of-the-season momentum from last season and maybe take it to the next level. The team is devoted to the development of their leader and even brought in quarterback coach Brian Johnson with the hope of transforming Prescott into a pass-first quarterback. Of course the dual-threat is more dynamic with his legs than his arm, but an augmentation to his passing skills will help him tyrannize SEC defenses.
Realistically, Dak Prescott will not turn into a Cam Newton in the next few weeks. But that doesn't mean he won't be effective. I still fear for his passing game, but if he limits interceptions again, a winning record for the Bulldogs is nearly guaranteed, and a run for the SEC crown is not totally out of the picture.
A record of 7-2 going into the Alabama game on November 15th would put the Bulldogs in strong title contention. If they can start 7-2 and win two of their last three, they would have a chance to win the SEC West at 9-3, especially if Auburn falls off a little bit.
The Bulldogs should enter 2014 with high hopes for their championship odds and high hopes for their quarterback; a breakout season for the signal-caller may be in the script for this year and if enough players step-up, Mississippi State may be even better than most are predicting.