By Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – It’s a little difficult to evaluate quarterbacks at Ole Miss right now, and that’s not necessarily because of the quarterbacks.
The offensive line is still trying to “get it” with the up-tempo offense of new coach Hugh Freeze, and that has complicated things.
It’s not a surprising development, as Freeze has said from the get-go that it takes longer for linemen to adjust, but it did make for a lack of offensive highlights in the Rebels’ first major scrimmage of spring drills.
That changed late when one of those highlights was Barry Brunetti’s 30-yard touchdown pass to Terrell Grant. Freeze called it one of the best back-shoulder throws he’d seen in a long time.
“The defense dominated the first half, maybe more. Then we went to some of our tempo stuff, and it gave them some problems,” Freeze said. “We make some mental mistakes up front that just kill plays.”
Brunetti and junior college transfer Bo Wallace, as has been the case this spring, each took snaps with the first team.
Brunetti finished 7 for 10 passing for 80 yards and threw a 15-yard touchdown pass to Ja-Mes Logan before connecting with Grant. He also had an overthrown pass picked off by safety Cody Prewitt.
Wallace didn’t turn the ball over, but didn’t score either. He was 9 for 18 passing for 62 yards.
Randall Mackey got some things done on the ground, rushing for 64 yards and scoring on runs of 46 and 5 yards.
He was 2 for 4 passing for 13 yards. Zack Stoudt had identical passing numbers and also threw an interception.
Running back Jeff Scott also had two rushing touchdowns, but running lanes were clogged most of the time early on.
Sophomore wide receiver Donte Moncrief did not play due to an undetermined injury.
Who’s the man?
While Freeze did not elevate any quarterback above another, Brunetti believes there will be a clear starter after spring.
“I feel like we’ll have a guy before summer,” Brunetti said.
If so, it could be a starter with a bruise here or there. Quarterbacks were fair game in the scrimmage, and licks were passed, though nothing that approached an injury.
“That’s something we’ll do,” Freeze said. “We’ve got to see who we really are, who can make plays.”