Redshirt freshman quarterbacks DeVante Kincade and Ryan Buchanan were eager to get on the field against Presbyterian.
If Bo Wallace stays healthy it will likely be their last extensive playing before spring drills.
Both looked confident and efficient in running the offense against what amounted to a scout team defense in a game that was already 35-0. Yes, there are lots of asterisks to place alongside their numbers, but those Presbyterian guys were trying to make plays, and as Dan Werner points out in this update from the Mother Ship, the big thing Saturday’s playing time provided was a chance to see how Kincade and Buchanan might improvise, how they would respond when presented with a look they weren’t “coached up” for during the week.
With 11-on-11 workouts closed for the most part you’re left to read the tea leaves and look for signals when pondering next year’s quarterback situation.
Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze has said that Buchanan is ahead, at the moment, in his reads and progressions. That is not insignificant.
Quarterback running is a wonderful gift, but the offense is at its best when a quarterback can survey a defense, come off his primary receiver, find the matchup advantage and, finally, throw an accurate pass.
Buchanan is not a stiff in the pocket, but his way of escaping pressure will be moving side to side or up, not taking off and putting pressure on defenses with his legs.
The progressions thing and his height are advantages for Buchanan. There’s plenty of time for Kincade to catch up with the former, not the latter.
Kincade threw a nice deep ball, 31 yards, for the touchdown to Derrick Jones. He placed it above the defender, and Jones reached up and made a nice end zone catch. That was impressive. You can see that pass at the 2:20 mark of this video:
If he does in fact master the progressions part of the offense — a very important part — and can make throws with accuracy the way he did Saturday — then you add in his mobility — it will be hard to keep Kincade out of the starting job.
Quarterback mobility is tempting for every coach. If Buchanan wins the job next season you can look for the reemergence of the running quarterback package, the way Barry Brunetti would come in and spell Wallace for two years.
Wallace last week predicted a strong quarterback competition next spring and told us we’d have fun watching Buchanan and Kincade compete.
I tend to agree.