By Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – Jeremiah Masoli says it’s not his place to say where he stands in the Ole Miss quarterback race.
No one, in fact, said anything to set one quarterback ahead of another as the Rebels closed the first week of camp with their first major scrimmage Saturday evening at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium before an estimated crowd of 2,500.
Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt said he evenly divided snaps with the first team among sophomore Nathan Stanley and transfers Masoli and Randall Mackey, the latter getting more pass opportunities.
Masoli was 6 for 12 for 101 yards and a touchdown. Mackey, the last of the three to get on the field, was 5 for 11 for 38 yards and two touchdowns, but also threw the only interception among the three.
Stanley was the only one in the race not to guide the offense into the end zone. He was 3 for 5 for 35 yards with no touchdowns and no interceptions.
“We’ll study this film hard, and as we get going we’ll narrow this thing down,” Nutt said. “You thought there would be a little more separation. It’s closer than I thought it would be.”
Media access to Masoli has been limited, but the former Oregon starter spoke briefly about his performance
While he’s been busy learning a new offense and a new playbook, he believes he’s close to the point of reacting more than thinking.
“There are still some plays that I have to take a second to think about, but I expect the process where it slows down for me to come in a week or two,” he said.
There were plays Saturday when it looked like that process was there.
“He just has that poise in the pocket,” defensive end Kentrell Lockett said. “You saw with your own eyes, people rushing him, and he’s just sitting there like he’s saying, ‘You still have to come get me, and I’m still going to throw.'”
All three quarterbacks faced a solid pass rush from the defense, and all three responded with some level of success.
Stanley’s longest completion was a 31-yard gain to Lionel Breaux.
Mackey’s touchdowns came on a 13-yard fade to Vincent Sanders and a 13-yard fade to Melvin Harris in a red-zone situational drill, the latter the only score allowed by the defense in the drill.
Mackey’s interception also came in the red zone, a pick by linebacker Jonathan Cornell in the middle of the field.
“We saw some good things, some big turnovers. I thought our red-zone defense stepped up,” defensive coordinator Tyrone Nix said. “We really challenged them. That was going to be our last session of the day, and we want to be strong in the fourth quarter.”
Masoli threw a 9-yard touchdown pass to Ja-Mes Logan. He had a 33-yard completion to Harris on the left sideline, and his 36-yard pass to Markeith Summers came after he slipped away from the pressure applied by Lawon Scott. The offense was in the end zone two plays later after freshman Jeff Scott covered the last 20 yards with runs of 15 and 5 yards.
“I’m just going to give it my all every day. At the end of the day it’s up to the coaches, not for me to say where I am,” Masoli said.
In addition to Scott, the running game highlight of the day was a 56-yard touchdown run by Enrique Davis against the No. 2 defense. Davis burst up the middle and once in the open field outran safety Terrell Grant to the end zone.
Nutt said if the Rebels played today, he’d make Stanley the starter based on his familiarity with the offense.
But has the race tightened?
“Oh yeah it has,” Nutt said. “Oh yeah.”
Contact Parrish Alford at 678-1600