Oregon quarterback Dakota Prukop is getting old.
He remembers the days when he’d go out and throw 100 passes and think that quantity equated to quality. He remembers how he’d work out at a facility with some pros who would tell him that his body wouldn’t always respond like that, and that at some point he’d not only have to work harder, but also smarter.
“Maybe when I was young I’d think, ‘Oh, I got a good day of work in,’ ” Prukop said. “But now, I’m more focused on going out with a plan of action.”
Now, as a ripe, old senior entering his first offseason in Eugene, Prukop is applying what he learned in his later years at Montana State as he fights for the starting job at Oregon, focusing each day on one or two things.
If he has a checklist with A and B and he gets to C tomorrow, it’s a good day.
He no longer fixes his errors by continuing to throw until he gets it right. After a mistake, he immediately stops himself to reflect and get down to the issue. Time is limited, and with so little of it, Prukop knows he can’t afford to make the same mistake twice, even if it’s in a practice session by himself.
“Instead of just pounding your fist against a concrete wall over and over and over,” Prukop said, “you figure out what the actual issue is.”
He got to this point a few years into his Montana State career and he’s back at it now, focused on perfection. The biggest difference for him has been footwork, as Oregon coach Mark Helfrich has quarterbacks synchronize their footwork to the receivers' routes in a different way than Prukop did at Montana State.
But even with a few major adjustments, Prukop was pleased with his spring because it gave him his list of what he would need to focus on during the summer. A few weeks into this offseason, he’s already chipping away at that list. The more he checks off on that list, the better position he puts himself in for fall camp to earn the starting job.
“I can work not only harder, but smarter as well,” Prukop said. “I know what I need to work on in terms of footwork, in terms of which routes I need to work on. ... It’s a great segue into the summer.”