Prukop picked as MSU starting quarterback

BOZEMAN — Montana State football coach Rob Ash called the quarterback competition during Saturday’s final major scrimmage of the fall a tour de force, and Sunday’s film session to determine the starter from among three candidates “very, very, very tough.”

On Monday, however, Ash and offensive coordinator Tim Cramsey named sophomore Dakota Prukop the team’s starting quarterback in advance of the Bobcats’ Aug. 30 season opener at Arkansas State. “We have great choices, it was a tremendous battle, all the guys performed superbly, and I thought Saturday was a tour de force,” Ash said. “It was a beautiful performance by three competitors who were all fighting in their last audition to prove what they can bring to the table. They all three were outstanding. I’m very excited about this position for our football team.”

Prukop compiled no stats in his lone outing last season against North Dakota. While his athleticism has been a mark in his favor throughout his career, Ash said Prukop’s advances in the passing game and the mechanics of playing quarterback since the spring pushed him into the starting role. “I think he gives us a dimension in the run game that’s extremely intriguing, and since the spring his pass efficiency, passing ability, has improved and continues to get better.”

Prukop finished the team’s final full-scale audition on Saturday with an 8-for-9 passing performance, throwing for 92 yards and a touchdown and running for nearly 50 yards (without accounting for sacks). But Ash indicated that Prukop has remained equally impressive in areas that don’t show up in the stats.

“What (Prukop) did well in camp was manage the offense,” Ash said. “He’s in the right place, his eyes are in the right place, his reads are to the right place, he gets guys lined up. There were no issues with that in spite of his youth and lack of experience. Dakota has really made great gains in this area since the spring.”

Ash praised junior Jake Bleskin and redshirt freshman Quinn McQueary, and said their preparedness remains a crucial component of the 2014 season. “I’m very excited about the quarterback position in our program because we have three tremendous players and tremendous competitors. Jake and Quinn have to be ready, especially with an active quarterback. You just can’t expect to get through an entire season with one guy, that’s not likely, that’s not how college football is right now.”

Monday’s announcement closes competition at the quarterback position, Ash said. “We’re not going to rotate or throw this thing open over the next few weeks more than likely,” he said. “This is a choice we’re going to go with. We’ll let Dakota run with it and see what happens. We’re not going to have him on a short leash just because the competition was tight. I feel like you’ve got to give a guy the chance to go play without looking over his shoulder.”

— MSU Sports Information

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