Deciphering Dak Prescott’s “Dark Horse” Heisman Chances


Oct 12, 2013; Starkville, MS, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs quarterback Dak Prescott (15) carries the ball against the Bowling Green Falcons at Davis Wade Stadium. The Bulldogs defeated the Falcons 21-20. Mandatory Credit: Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

More and more people are starting to believe that Dak Prescott should be considered a “Dark Horse” candidate to win the Heisman.

But what does that mean exactly?

It’s good to get excited about what Dak might accomplish, and I think he could sneak up and surprise a lot of people. That seems to be the trend the last three years. Few, if anyone, thought that Robert Griffin III, Johnny Manziel, and Jameis Winston would have been hoisting the Heisman trophy in New York, but there they were. The one thing that we have to remember is that it won’t be easy. Jameis Winston will be the favorite entering the year and he should be. He won it this year, Florida State will return a strong team, and he plays in the ACC where he can put up even better numbers in 2014 than he did in 2013.

This Dark Horse talk has heated up recently. There was an article on that listed him in the dark horse category, and to add fuel to the fire, Barrett Sallee of Bleacher Report wrote an article dedicated to Dak Prescott’s Heisman chances. One thing that they both pointed out that many State fans need to remember is that it isn’t likely.  So why not take a look at the things that favor Prescott’s chances and the things that hurt his chances.

Reasons Prescott Can’t Win it

The Schedule: One of the best ways to win the Heisman is to pile up impressive stats. The first three games of the year are against opponents that State should be able to put away by half time. If that is the case, Prescott may not play much in those games and not have the opportunity to put up eye popping numbers. If that happens, his first chance to impress voters will be game 4 against LSU. Some others may have already grabbed their attention, which would make it that much more difficult to get votes in his favor.

Injury: The Dan Mullen offense is perfectly fitted for Prescott’s skill set. The problem with it is that it puts the quarterback in harm’s way more times than not. He suffered a more serious than people realize nerve injury in the Texas A&M game, and it could happen again. He could probably afford to miss one game due to injury, but if he misses more than that, his Heisman chances are virtually done.

Accuracy: In terms of a talent stand point, this is the biggest hurdle that Prescott will face. He completed 58% of his passes this year, and on many throws he did complete, if he had done a better job of leading the receiver, he could have racked up even more yards and more touchdowns. If he can’t pinpoint his throws more, then it’s going to be that much more difficult for him to make his way to New York.

Reasons Prescott Can Win it

The Schedule: Yes, the schedule can both hurt and help him. The Bulldogs should have three games to warm up and get a lot of their two deep roster plenty of playing time early on in the season. This should help them win the games in the next stretch of three games, which may be the most pivotal on the schedule. After the Bulldogs play Southern Miss, UAB, and South Alabama, they have games at LSU, and then Texas A&M and Auburn in Starkville. If State can pull off what will be viewed as a huge upset in Baton Rouge, then Prescott will start to garner some national attention. If they can come out of there first six games undefeated, don’t be surprised if they enter the game against Alabama undefeated, and Heisman talk becoming one of the main storylines.

Experience: Prescott is going to benefit from being one of the most experienced quarterbacks in the league next year. The SEC lost a lot of talented quarterbacks, and Prescott will benefit from that. If you were to try and decide who the best returning quarterbacks are, the debate would come down to Nick Marshall and Dak Prescott. I know Marshall led his team to the BCS title game, but I would take Prescott if I had to choose one of them.

His Improvisation Skills: Prescott can take a broken play and turn it into seven points. This is what made Manziel so great and the reason he won the Heisman. He took plays that should have been eight yard sacks and turned them into 40 yard gains. It’s something that is almost impossible to prepare for from a defensive coaching standpoint. Prescott has some of that same ability, though in a completely different style. Manziel seemed to have an innate ability to just slip through the arms of tacklers to keep plays alive. Prescott keeps plays alive in much the same way Ben Rothlisberger of the Steelers does, using power and strength.

The Offseason: This is what will help Prescott the most. Despite not being prepped in the offseason heading into 2013 as the starter, he still had a very productive year. He eventually supplanted Tyler Russell as the starter, and showed his ability to handle what Mullen expects from the quarterback position. The receiving corps will stay in tact, and they will have an entire offseason to sync up and learn how to make the offense more productive. Mullen will also be able to implement the offense to fit Prescott, and to think that Dak could put up Tebow like numbers next year is a very real possibility.

Prescott may or may not win the Heisman, and the dark horse talk scares me a little bit. The last “Dark Horse” candidate talked about from the state of Mississippi was 2009 with Jevan Snead. We all know how that worked out for him and Ole Miss. The fact that he is getting some publicity is good though. It’s going to be an uphill battle for him, but if he could find his way to New York in December, it wouldn’t surprise me in the least.