HOUSTON (AP) — Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott will play on Saturday against No. 11 Texas A&M, just days after his mother died of cancer. There was some uncertainty about Prescott's availability for the game after he missed practice early in the week to be with his family. But Bulldogs coach Dan Mullen said on his weekly radio show that Prescott would play.
HOUSTON (AP) — Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott will play on Saturday against No. 11 Texas A&M, just days after his mother died of cancer.
There was some uncertainty about Prescott's availability for the game after he missed practice early in the week to be with his family. But Bulldogs coach Dan Mullen said on his weekly radio show that Prescott would play.
Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin raved about Prescott, a dual threat quarterback like Texas A&M's Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel.
"That's a difficult situation for anyone, especially a young man of his age," Sumlin said of Prescott. "He certainly has given them a different element. He's a big strong guy that can throw it and just run through people."
He has ran for at least 100 yards in three games this season, has thrown for 1,393 yards and five touchdowns and added 10 touchdowns on 568 yards rushing.
The Aggies are hoping to build on two straight solid defensive performances after struggling for most of the season. Texas A&M ranks first in the Southeastern Conference in almost every offensive category, but still ranks last in pass defense and second to last in total defense.
"We've played pretty well defensively the last few weeks," Sumlin said. "We're gaining some confidence. We're going to find out Saturday how much we've improved."
Five things to know about the Mississippi State-Texas A&M game:
SLOWING MANZIEL: Mullen knows his defense won't be able to stop Manziel and Texas A&M's high-powered offense, but they hope to at least slow them down. Manziel accounted for six touchdowns in less than three quarters during the team's lopsided win over UTEP last week.
"The fewest points they've scored in a game this season is 41," Mullen said. "A lot of teams put up huge numbers, but statistics can sometimes be deceiving because you have to do it consistently. When 41 is their lowest point total, they're a very, very explosive offense."
GETTING LEWIS INVOLVED: Good things usually happen for Mississippi State when receiver Jameon Lewis has a big game. The 5-foot-11, 195-pound junior leads the team with 37 catches for 491 yards and four touchdowns, has rushed for 117 yards and three touchdowns and also thrown two touchdown passes on trick plays. He's the first player at the FBS level since 2008 to have a rushing, receiving and passing touchdown in two games in one season.
EVANS ELEVATES: Texas A&M receiver Mike Evans is third in the nation with 1,147 yards receiving this season. He has 12 touchdowns this season and has two of the top three individual receiving performances in a game this year. Mullen is worried about the combination of Manziel and the 6-foot-5 Evans.
"If Johnny Manziel scrambles around and throws one up and Mike Evans jumps over our guys and catches the ball, there's not a whole lot you can do about that," Mullen said. "What you have to avoid is the scrambles around and having nobody near Mike Evans. That's a problem."
WHAT A RUSH: Sumlin has been encouraged by his team's recent ability to get to opposing quarterbacks. The Aggies had just seven sacks in their first seven games and have piled up nine in the last two.
"We've been able to turn it up a little bit," Sumlin said. "I think early in the year, we had some guys get loose, but we didn't have contain on the back side because we were taking some chances. The quarterback escaped a bunch early in the year. We've been a lot more sound in what we're doing ... that's really helped us."
LAST DANCE: Saturday is Texas A&M's last game in College Station this year and the last time they'll play at Kyle Field before a $450 million redevelopment project. The improvements will make Kyle Field that largest stadium in the SEC, increasing its capacity from 82,589 to 102,500. The project is expected to be complete for the 2015 season, but the team will play at Kyle Field, which opened in 1927, during construction.
AP Sports Writer David Brandt contributed to this report.