Oregon starting quarterback Dakota Prukop has felt the excitement of opening day surging through his body before. But this Saturday's opener might trump all past experiences for the senior transfer from Montana State.
“You could say this is the most excited I’ve been for a season,” Prukop said. “I’m really excited to go out and play in Autzen.”
Prukop will make his Oregon debut at 2 p.m., Saturday. It just so happens he will do so against a familiar foe in UC Davis, a team Prukop lit up while playing in the Big Sky Conference.
In 2014 Prukop led the Bobcats to a 77-37 win at UC Davis by accumulating 509 total yards of offense. He completed 17-of-22 passes for 361 yards and four touchdowns with zero interceptions. He also rushed for 148 yards and two scores (highlights below).
"I just did my job, trusted my teammates and the coaches made good calls," Prukop said.
Prukop, however, said he isn't thinking about putting up similar numbers on Saturday. He simply doesn't approach the game that way.
“I’ll just focus on doing my job and making sure I can just take what the defense gives me, and taking the easy plays," he said. "I’m not going to be looking to have an eight-touchdown game.”
Such maturity and attention to detail helped Prukop win the starting job over a trio of freshmen. Prukop entered fall camp in a battle with redshirt freshman Travis Jonsen who ultimately fell to No. 4 behind true freshmen, Justin Herbert and Terry Wilson Jr.
Prukop said he began to excel within the offense after shifting from competition mode to simply working on bettering himself.
“A couple of days into camp I started just forgetting about the competition," Prukop said. "I was more just working on progressing each day and working on not making the same mistake on a certain play that I made the day prior.”
If that approach continues Prukop could be in for a big year.
"I'm really fortunate to play quarterback here with all the weapons," he said.
Montana State vs. UC Davis, 2014
Here is a quick look at UC Davis:
No. 24 Oregon vs. UC Davis.
When: 2 p.m., Saturday, Autzen Stadium.
T.V.: Pat-12 Network.
Betting line: Off
Records: First game for both, Oregon last season went 9-4. The Aggies went 2-9.
Coaches: Oregon's Mark Helfrich (33-8); UC Davis' Ron Gould (9-25).
Last season: The Aggies went 2-9 for the second consecutive season to finish tied for 8th in the Big Sky Conference. UC Davis averaged 22.3 points per game while allowing 34.2.
Aggies impact players: UC Davis' offense is led by senior running back Manusamoa Luuga, who last season led the team in carries (166), rushing yards (613), rushing touchdowns (six) and receptions (51). Sophomore running back Joshua Kelley gained 530 yards rushing and scored three touchdowns.
Senior quarterback Ben Scott passed for 1,598 yards and 11 touchdowns with seven interceptions over eight games before getting injured.
Junior defensive back Darryl Graham led the team last season with 76 tackles.
Fear factor (five-point scale): LOL. Watch this game only because it's the opener, you want to see the new defense, and witness Prukop and backup Justin Herbert in action for the first time in an Oregon uniform. The game will be a snooze. If it isn't, the Ducks will be in trouble the rest of the season.
Preliminary pick: Oregon, 66-13.