After Signing Day: Quarterbacks

Position-by-position with Ole Miss after Signing Day …

An offensive coordinator once told me that quarterback is such an important position you want to sign at least one in each class.

The Rebels signed one in name, Kendrick Doss, with this year’s group, and another who is now called athlete but was quite proficient at quarterback just a few miles away while in high school at Lafayette County. The idea of a near 300-pounder under center in Jeremy Liggins creates unique possibilities.

There may be situational use for Liggins at quarterback, but I don’t think that’s in his full-time future.

Ole Miss QB Bo Wallace.

Ole Miss QB Bo Wallace.

The immediate future belongs to Bo Wallace, and while many in the SEC West will be transitioning at quarterback – Alabama, LSU, Texas A&M – Ole Miss will return a third-year starter.

With luck, he’ll remain healthy for an entire season. The shoulder injury Wallace sustained in September of 2012 at Tulane has plagued him at the end of both of his first two seasons.

His inability to go through summer conditioning because of the early 2013 surgery necessitated by the 2012 injury showed up at the end of his junior season in strength and stamina we were told.

I thought Bo Wallace did a remarkable job of reducing his interceptions from 17 as a sophomore to 10 last season.

But he didn’t finish strong. Wallace threw seven interceptions in his last four games against BCS-level competition including three in the regular season finale against Mississippi State.

In spite of the three interceptions, Wallace had the Rebels in position to win until he fumbled into the end zone in the overtime and MSU recovered.

There is much room for improvement in ball-protection. Wallace is going to always have a bit of a gunslinger mentality. He’ll take chances. You live with that as long as Wallace is your quarterback. It’s that mentality, however, that has lessened his support with many in the fan base.

There’s a redshirt freshman behind him with exciting potential in DeVante Kincade.

I have been asked if Kincade will compete for the job. The answer is no. Kincade was very impressive with lots of reps last summer. It was clear they were getting him ready to play if it turned out they would need him.

The Rebels also have redshirt freshman Ryan Buchanan, who is more of a pocket passer. I suspect Buchanan is stronger now than when I saw him in limited reps last August.

What I saw from Kincade (6-0, 200) last summer was more mobility than Buchanan, a quicker version of Barry Brunetti with touch and accuracy in the passing game.

He looked poised in practice. Take note of that last word – practice. If he continues to progress he could offer a different change of pace from Brunetti’s whose strength was power inside running.

If Kincade in fact brings a greater threat of passing, a whole new world is opened when the change-of-pace guy comes in.

If Kincade has made normal Year I to Year II progression from what I saw last August, maybe there’s a bigger package for him, and he plays a little more than Brunetti did. Remember Brunetti was also injured some last year.

I don’t think Kincade competes for the job unless Wallace takes backward steps in terms of ball-protection and decision-making and opens that window.

As far as the power running from the quarterback, Liggins will get a crack at that. If he can handle the ball and make good decisions he’ll be an asset. Those who saw him play quarterback at Northeast believe he can contribute.

I saw him once in high school, and he put on a show against Tupelo.

With two redshirt freshmen plus Liggins vying for snaps, Doss is a redshirt candidate.

Doss was rated a three-star prospect by the major services and was called the nation’s No. 11 dual threat quarterback by Rivals.com.

Denham Springs, La., native, Mississippian since 1989 with a stop in Meridian before arriving in Tupelo. Daily Journal beat writer since 1996, covering Ole Miss since 2002. Proud Northeast Louisiana alum. Follow me on Twitter @parrishalford and listen to John Davis and myself daily with The Ole Miss Beat on Rebel Sports Radio.

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