By Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – For Ole Miss, beating Brigham Young today would be a big first step in fully eradicating the memory of the 2010 season opener and a launching point for a possible winning season.
The Rebels were upset 49-48 in two overtimes against FCS opponent Jacksonville State to start last season. The loss had lingering effects, Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt said, and the Rebels went on to finish 4-8.
Kickoff at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium is 3:45 p.m., and the game will be televised by ESPN.
It’s a faster and more athletic Ole Miss team that takes the field today, and a much less experienced one, starting at quarterback where West Virginia transfer Barry Brunetti, a sophomore, will make his first college start.
“Everybody’s full speed now, everybody’s more comfortable. I’m anxious, and I’m ready to go,” he said.
Brunetti was named the starter on Aug. 23, the day Nutt announced that Randall Mackey would be suspended for one game following his arrest on a disorderly conduct charge.
Brunetti, Mackey, a junior college transfer who redshirted last season, and junior college transfer Zack Stoudt, had been locked in a competition that Nut said was too close for him to name a starter – until Mackey’s arrest.
Stoudt, a pocket passer, is also expected to play in the game. Brunetti, whose strength is running the option, played in four games at West Virginia last year.
Ole Miss offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach David Lee thought Brunetti might have been putting too much pressure on himself in the days following his promotion to starter. That changed this week in practice when Brunetti began to show more consistency in practice. He appeared to turn a corner on Tuesday.
“I thought he was calm. I thought he hit what he was aiming at for the most part,” Lee said. “He’d been real inconsistent, hot and cold. He was consistent today. That’s what will win you a championship.”