Pruitt bringing energy

Published 3:00 am Wednesday, October 14, 2015

After proving a catalyst in the second half of last week’s game, third-string quarterback Dontreal Pruitt has earned the opportunity to play, says head coach Neal Brown.

Pruitt, a five foot 10 inch quarterback was tapped to lead the Trojans in the second half of the game against Mississippi State as the Trojans struggled to recover from a 21-17 deficit.

Pruitt and the defense was the story of the second half for the Trojans. Pruitt finished the game for the Trojans completing 12 of his 17 passes for 90 yards. On the ground Pruitt finished with 56 yards on 18 carries and one touchdown.

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“I’m proud of Dontreal Pruitt,” Brown said. “I talked about that after the game. I thought he came in and really was a catalyst for us. I was happy for him, especially in his home state.”

Pruitt was the third quarterback to see play in last week’s 45-17 loss to the Bulldogs. Starting quarterback Brandon Silvers sustained an upper body injury in the first half, forcing him out of the game and leaving him a game-time decision for this week. Back up quarterback Dallas Tidwell closed out the first half for the Trojans, but Pruitt proved to the catalyst the team needed.

“I was pleased with how he came in and performed,” Brown said. “We adjusted some things at halftime to give him a better opportunity, so I was pleased with that.”

Brown and the coaching staff have been focused on Pruitt’s potential since last spring. The plan was to develop Pruitt as an “athlete” – someone to come in and take snaps and use his legs to punish defenses.

“Coming out of the spring our plan was to play him and have packages for him and he struggled in fall camp a little bit and we got away from it and Brandon (Silvers) played at a high level,” Brown said. “So what his performance in the second half did is earn him and opportunity to play.”

Prior to last week’s game, he had a total of four carries and eight yards.

“We were trying to wait until we got into the meat of our conference schedule to do those things,” Brown said. “He is a good runner. He is a better runner than most people realize. He is a good athlete.”

Brown said the non-conference schedule has offered limited opportunities to showcase Pruitt’s abilities. “We went through that tough stretch in our non-conference schedule and limited his opportunities to get hit. Sometimes we did a good job at that sometimes we didn’t, honestly.”

With Silvers’ ability to play a game-time decision on Saturday, the coaching staff will be comfortable letting Pruitt lead the team against Idaho Vandals.

“Our kids have a lot of respect for him,” Brown said. “He was a captain in (last week’s) game, so that tells you what kind of respect our kids have for him, for the backup quarterback to be a captain in that game.”

Pruitt has the ability to run but he can also mix things up with his arm. Pruitt’s passing ability give the Trojans the ability to change things up on their opponents.

“I think he gives us an option to make plays,” Brown said. “Even when Brandon’s healthy, we will figure out ways to get him the ball.”

Pruitt and the Trojans will take on the Idaho Vandals Saturday afternoon at 2:30 p.m.