The early season performances of Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott have gotten the attention of LSU coach Les Miles.
"Dak Prescott is as good a player as there is at his position in our conference," Miles said Monday, as preparations began for the No. 8 Tigers' Southeastern Conference opener against the Bulldogs on Saturday night. "He's a guy that stands back in the pocket and knows what he's looking at. He makes the throws and he has the ability to pull it down. He runs with strength.
"I don't know exactly how fast Prescott is, but he carves through the ground very quickly," Miles added. "When you go to tackle him, you better hit him hard. You better take him off his feet because he's just a big, physical kid."
The Tigers (3-0) have yielded just 94 passing yards per game in their victories against Wisconsin, Sam Houston State and Louisiana-Monroe. Quarterbacks from those three teams have combined to complete a mere 40 percent of passing attempts with no touchdowns and four interceptions.
Yet they know their previous performances hardly assure similar results when Mississippi State (3-0) visits Tiger Stadium.
The Bulldogs have scored at least 35 points in their three season-opening victories. Prescott, a northwest Louisiana native who played for Haughton High School, has completed 60 percent of his passes for nearly 700 yards and nine touchdowns against two interceptions.
LSU had an opportunity to see the dual-threat skills of Prescott in last season's game in Starkville. Prescott accounted for more than 200 yards while dividing time with Tyler Russell. Prescott rushed for 103 yards, including a 28-yard scoring run. He completed nine of 20 passes for 106 yards.
"Prescott is really an explosive player," said defensive tackle Christian LaCouture, who saw action against Prescott as a backup last year. "You have to stop the run first and convert on the pass later. You see a lot of guys who are a great runner and not a good thrower or guys who are the complete opposite.
"Prescott can both run and throw," LaCouture said. "As defensive linemen, we have to attack the line of scrimmage. We have to get off blocks and make sure he doesn't create big-time plays. Then, we need to get in his face when he throws the ball."
Prescott will be leading a Bulldogs team which has produced dreadful results against LSU since the SEC expanded to 12 teams in 1992. Since both teams have been in the Western Division, the Tigers have won 21 of the 22 meetings between the teams.
LSU has not been beaten by Mississippi State since 1999 when the Bulldogs eked out a 17-16 victory. That season was the last one in which the Tigers had a losing record. LSU has not lost in Tiger Stadium to Mississippi State since 1991 — the year before the SEC split into divisions.
However, Miles knows this is not the same caliber of Bulldogs team of recent seasons. The SEC West has five teams ranked in the top ten in the country.
"Mississippi State should easily be a ranked team" as well, Miles said. "I can't imagine they're not ranked. They have all the abilities that you would see in a ranked team. You look at Mississippi State film and they call you to play best. We're going to have to earn the victory and we recognize that."