PARRISH ALFORD: Quarterback questions remain for Rebels

By Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal

OXFORD – With Ole Miss spring football now complete, the quarterback position is no more settled than when spring began.
That’s not surprising.
What is surprising is that Hugh Freeze seems to be warming up to this idea of playing two quarterbacks – Barry Brunetti and Bo Wallace.
On Tuesday’s SEC teleconference, Freeze said, “It wouldn’t surprise me if we went into the first few games with us playing both those quarterbacks.”
There aren’t many ways in which Freeze is similar to his predecessor, Houston Nutt, but to be unsettled at the game’s most critical position is Nutt-esque.
There were a number of factors that led to Nutt’s struggles the last two seasons and ultimately to his dismissal. The quarterback position was certainly in there.
With visions of the up-tempo high-scoring offense that Freeze is trying to build come visions of one man at trigger.
Although Wallace, in the Grove Bowl, looked more comfortable in the passing game than he had all spring, Freeze hasn’t evaluated him as a clear leader.
Brunetti brings a different skill set to the position, and when you have a quarterback who can be a 100-yard rusher – as he nearly was against LSU – there are benefits.
Wallace isn’t a stiff, but he doesn’t run like Brunetti. Because the two are so different, both can help the team. The one who is most consistent in the passing game and involves an improving group of receivers will help the team most.
Last Saturday that looked like Wallace.
A few other thoughts to wrap up spring football:
* If Nick Brassell is a part of the team in the fall, the Rebels could build some depth at corner based on the success of Wesley Pendleton and junior college transfer Dehendret Collins. Both are still learning but did good things. Senquez Golson, now playing baseball, will rejoin the mix as well.
* There are exciting possibilities for Randall Mackey as the “utility player” on offense. He looks to be a more physical runner than was last year.
* Depth is an issue at most positions, and freshmen will get a chance to play quickly. Think running back I’Tavius Mathers and defensive end Channing Ward of Aberdeen.
* Co-defensive coordinator Dave Wommack is high on his defensive tackles, but there are health concerns. Uriah Grant is coming off shoulder surgery, and Bryon Bennett missed the first half of spring in a walking boot. Backups Gilbert Pena, Carlton Martin and Woodrow Hamilton got plenty of reps.
Says Wommack: “There are five or six guys I feel can really help us win in the SEC. We’ll keep building from there.”
There’s lots of building going on, and that might involve playing two quarterbacks.
Parrish Alford (parrish.alford@ journalinc.com) covers Ole Miss for the Journal. He blogs at Djournal.com.