The Conerly Trophy will be presented tonight most likely to either Bo Wallace or Mississippi State offensive lineman Gabe Jackson.
I cast my vote over the weekend for Wallace with less enthusiasm than I thought I would have when the time game.
That’s based strictly on the last game, the rival game, the worst game this season for Wallace in the game where most Ole Miss fans would hope he has a career night.
I’m not a believer that the Conerly, the Heisman or any other individual award should be won or lost on one game.
The other thing that is difficult in a head-to-head comparison with Jackson is Jackson’s position. It’s hard to measure an offensive lineman against a skill position.
Wallace had a terrible game in the Egg Bowl. Jackson’s team won, but the Bulldogs did not have an offensive game that offered proof of Jackson’s dominance. They didn’t line up and run successfully behind him.
Before the Egg Bowl I had been impressed all season with how Wallace had reduced his interception total. Even now he’s thrown nine through 12 games, far off the pace of the 17 he threw last season.
His completion percentage is slightly higher, and the 3,000 passing yards that he narrowly missed in 13 games last season he achieved in the regular season this time.
Wallace might not be the best choice in a year with more successful Mississippi teams.
The bigger question for Wallace will be the bowl game and next season rather than the Conerly.
I was surprised this season at the level of non-support for Wallace from a number of Ole Miss fans. The call for Barry Brunetti was never far behind. Brunetti played a crucial role on this team as a change-of-pace guy. His passing was improved, but I never got the feeling that Brunetti could carry Ole Miss through a game with a balanced offense that involved the playmakers at wide receiver.
Wallace was hit or miss last season, and it appears that some fans never forgot or forgave that.
Wallace’s fearlessness has been a good fit for Ole Miss at this point in time, particularly last season when the Rebels needed a leader to believe he could make plays. Wallace has always believed. His decisions have been improved this season, but his Egg Bowl performance was a backward step.
The bowl game will be an important chance for Wallace to show he can again become the type of quarterback he was in some games this season.
I don’t think Wallace’s job is threatened next season, but if Devante Kincade develops through spring and camp and makes plays in games like the once he made in August practice you could see a situation where the change-of-pace QB gets more playing time.