The Dual Threat QB (Dak Prescott) vs. Alabama


Nov 8, 2014; Starkville, MS, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs quarterback Dak Prescott (15) smiles while on the headsets after coming out of the game against the UT Martin Skyhawks during the fourth quarter at Davis Wade Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Alabama’s run of exceptional defense over the last seven years is one of the most dominant we’ve ever seen in college football. They have led the SEC in total defense every year since 2008 and are on top again this season. Their kryptonite, however, seems to be the duel threat quarterback.

I’m not talking about any duel threat quarterback. Not Jordan Jefferson or James Franklin – I’m talking about elite quarterbacks who rise to the level of Heisman consideration. Alabama’s defense can handle virtually anything you throw their way, but these are the guys who are truly disruptive:

  • Tim Tebow
  • Cam Newton
  • Johnny Manziel
  • Nick Marshall

Alabama has played six games against those quarterbacks from 2008-2013. They are 2-4. Let’s look at the stats in those games:

1. 2008 vs. Tim Tebow (Florida): 30-21 loss

  • 14 of 22 for 216 yards, 3 TD 0 INT; 57 yards rushing on 17 carries

2. 2009 vs. Tim Tebow (Florida): 32-13 win

  • 20 of 35 for 247 yards, 1 TD 1 INT; 63 yards rushing on 10 carries

3. 2010 vs. Cam Newton (Auburn): 28-27 loss

  • 13 of 20 for 216 yards, 3 TD 0 INT; 39 yards rushing on 22 carries

4. 2012 vs. Johnny Manziel (Texas A&M): 29-24 loss

  • 24 of 31 for 253, 2 TD 0 INT; 92 yards rushing on 18 carries

5. 2013 vs. Johnny Manziel (Texas A&M): 49-42 win

  • 20 of 29 for 334 yards, 4 TD 0 INT; 98 yards rushing on 14 carries

6. 2013 vs. Nick Marshall (Auburn): 34-28 loss

  • 11 of 16 for 97 yards, 2 TD 0 INT; 99 yards rushing on 17 carries

Five of the six did not throw an interception, and five of the six lead their team in rushing. 

Win or lose, all of these games were really close except the end of the 2009 SEC Championship Game. It’s not like Bama’s defense gets dominated by elite duel threat QBs, but they have had some really good games as you can see above.

Nick Saban and Kirby Smart implement a 3-4 defense, but much of the time they have a 3-3-5 nickel or even a dime defense ensuring that you can’t throw against them. Their D-line and linebackers are so good they can stop the run and focus their man power on the secondary to stop the pass.

Duel threat quarterbacks throw a wrench in. Now Bama’s defense has to bring a safety up or play with four linebackers to spy on the quarterback to account for his running ability. And just like against any other defense, the play-action pass, read option and other plays are all opened up by Dak Prescott’s ability to run effectively.

After the Crimson Tide escaped with a 20-7 win in Starkville last year, many people remarked about how MSU probably would have won that game if Prescott had played. Alas, he was injured the week prior at Texas A&M. Tyler Russell was 15 of 24 for 144 yards before he too was injured in the 4th quarter, and a cold true freshman in Damian Williams had to come off the bench and was 0 of 5 passing (with a couple of them being drops).

Prescott has played against Alabama, however. In 2012, with the game decided in the 4th quarter, he engineered the Bulldogs only scoring drive of the game. He went 63 yards on nine plays to get the touchdown. 4 of 6 for 40 yards and a touchdown pass. It wasn’t the Dak Prescott we’ll see on Saturday, but he has played in Bryant Denny Stadium and he has had success – as we know Nick Saban does not allow his players to go easy late in games.

For the same reason that Mississippi State is 9-0 and ranked #1 in the country with the best offense in the SEC, they will have a great chance to beat Alabama: Dak Prescott. His ability to run and pass will serve the Bulldogs well against the vaunted Tide defense.