Notes and observations from today's spring football scrimmage …
No quarterback moved ahead in the two-player race for the starting job. Barry Brunetti and Bo Wallace did good things, moved the their units at times, but neither ended the day with any more of a grip on the job than when they began.
Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze and co-offensive coordinator Dan Werner called them even.
Ball-protection was pretty good in roughly an hour and a half of work. Brunetti threw two interceptions, one early by juco transfer Dehendret Collins and one late by Charles Sawyer. Playing safety during the overtime drills when the offense began at the 25-yard line, Sawyer closed really fast on a well-thrown ball that initially looked like it might be a touchdown.
Brunetti finished the day 12-for-17 for 119 yards and had touchdown passes of 20 yards to Vincent Sanders – Sanders was covered by Cody Prewitt and did a nice job of adjusting for the ball – and 23 yards to Ja-Mes Logan.
At one point Brunetti had nine-straight completions.
Wallace finished 10-for-23 for 113 yards with three touchdowns. His scoring passes went to Logan for 9 yards, to Terrell Grant for 13 yards and to Sanders for 20 yards. Prewitt was matched up against Sanders agin, went for the pick and missed, and Sanders turned and raced to the end zone.
Both quarterbacks showed nice pocket awareness and the ability to escape pressure. That looks like it will be important behind an offensive line that has struggled this spring.
Line play was better today. There were more inside running lanes than there were during the week. Protection was OK, not great. There were several sacks in the 120 plays.
The fact is, it may be 2013 before Freeze and Matt Luke get the OL where they want it to be. In the meantime, the Rebels will try to compensate with elusive quarterbacks – and Brunetti and Wallace are both capable there – and play-calling.
Speaking of ball-protection, no fumbles today, and that says a lot for Tobia Singleton, a newcomer at running back, as well as Jeff Scott and Devin Thomas. Nick Parker banged it up inside a few times for nice gains.
I have been impressed with the play of Collins and Wesley Pendleton at cornerback this spring. So has Freeze, but when you ask him about the secondary his first response is depth. It's not there, of course, but there's not a lot of depth at any position. If Collins and Pendleton continue to progress and Nick Brassell – who was not a part of today's scrimmage – is eligible, there could be good depth at corner. One guy that hasn't been mentioned much this spring is Senquez Golson, who is playing baseball.
Defensive coordinator Dave Wommack says he likes what he's seen from his interior linemen and believes the tackles will be a plus for the defense. Again, all parts and pieces aren't there, and Freeze said this week that Uriah Grant was looking at shoulder surgery.
Speaking of players not around, offensive lineman Matt Hall, a 12-game starter last year, has been out for an unspecified reason. Freeze said today Hall is working to get into position to graduate this summer.
It looks like the OL is settling in with a first five of Emmanuel McCray at left tackle, Aaron Morris at left guard, Evan Swindall at center, A.J. Hawkins at right guard and Pierce Burton at right tackle.