Since spring drills have ended Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze has talked about wanting to see how his quarterback candidates handle themselves and their teammates off the field.
That was a theme he hit again on a teleconference with other SEC West coaches earlier today.
“One of the biggest criteria, looking not only at tape or practice, will be how they handle the off time, their decision-making off the field, how the team rallies around them and goes to work, who’s throwing extra balls. I’m really curious to see those things,” he said.
That said, there is plenty that Freeze still wants to see on the field when practice resumes.
After a spring in which he said all of his quarterbacks – Ryan Buchanan, the leader by a hair, juco transfer Chad Kelly and DeVante Kincade – did good things the competition will turn on who does the most good things every day.
There’s a word for that: Consistency.
“I want to see who can get us in position to make plays, to take care of the football, who can manage drives, who can make difficult throws, who’s not going to get too greedy when there’s no need to be. We’ve got a good defense. I want to see who can run the football team and put points on the board, who can do that. I don’t think that’s going to be decided until well into fall camp,” Freeze said.
As you sift through coach comments in the months ahead pay particular attention to the ones that deal with taking care of the football.
Bo Wallace isn’t the only recent Ole Miss quarterback to struggle with that.
Check out this blog post I wrote in early January on Ole Miss quarterbacks. It details the number of interceptions thrown from the position since Eli Manning’s first year as a starter. Some interceptions have come from one guy, some from multiple guys.
Consistency is a nice buzz word for coaches and athletes in ball sports.
In football, a lot of the other things Freeze wants to see will take care of themselves if the quarterback takes care of the football.
Freeze went on the talk about Kelly’s football IQ and say he’s really ahead of where Freeze thought he would be for after spring, particularly given the fact that Buchanan and Kincade have been in his system for two years.
He also mentioned that it wasn’t really a fair evalation for quarterbacks or running backs when they were getting reps behind a patchwork No. 2 offensive line in the spring.
On the injury front he said that offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil (leg) has been released to run and has looked good doing it. Freeze has studied video of Tunsil running.
Guard Aaron Morris (ACL) is expected to be running and cutting on his knee in about another month.
Tackle and center Robert Conyers is also expected to be back within a month, and Freeze said he expects to put wide receiver Laquon Treadwell through some contact work in camp to get him ready for SEC play.