By Parrish Alford
OXFORD – Bo Wallace’s value increased in the eyes of his head coach on Tuesday, and Wallace didn’t have to do a thing.
Wallace is returning for his third year as the starting quarterback for Ole Miss. It’s the race for No. 2 that is generating discussion. During Tuesday’s workout, it generated frustration as the experience that redshirt freshman Ryan Buchanan and DeVante Kincade don’t have right now led to mistakes that Freeze wanted to move past quickly.
“I’m disappointed, to be candid. We’re not taking care of the ball well enough. Our timing is off. We seem to be a little confused,” he said.
Freeze said he and offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Dan Werner have to get Wallace’s back-ups to another level of proficiency.
“I told Dan we have to get this cleared up mentally and get them playing faster,” he said.
Buchanan and Kincade, both four-star, recruits have gone through the off-season trying to digest the whole offense and play to more than their stereotypes.
Kincade (6-0, 202) is billed as the running quarterback, Buchanan (6-3, 208) the more traditional pocket passer.
“That doesn’t bother me now, but it used to,” Kincade said. “God blessed me with the ability to run and get away from people. It’s like an emergency button for me.”
While running away from people comes naturally for Kincade, it’s something Buchanan has had to work at with the school’s strength staff.
Buchanan’s height gives him the advantage of seeing over his lineman and down the field.
Kincade says vision was a concern for him when he arrived, but he’s worked past that.
“I thought it would be a problem, but going through (last) fall and spring ball it was normal.”
Kincade passed for 6,126 yards and rushed for a little more than 1,700 yards over his last two seasons at Skyline High School in Dallas. He says called running plays for him were exceptionally rare.
Buchanan, likewise, scoffs at the idea that he’s a one-dimensional quarterback.
“If I was really immobile I wouldn’t be in this system,” he says.
Still, improving that aspect of his game has been a point of focus.
“Coach (Paul) Jackson has helped me change my body type to be more of a runner, cutting down on body fat and turning it to muscle.”
Like Kincade, Buchanan has had the labels of others thrust upon him. As a senior at Jackson Prep the recruiting website used phrases like “pocket passer” and “pro style” to describe him.
“That’s fine. I’ve heard Kincade labeled as a running quarterback, and I know he can throw. I’ve been labeled as a pocket passer. You have to move the ball to get first downs, and you have to combine running and throwing to do that.”
Sometimes labels aren’t off the mark. As Freeze evaluates his potential No. 2’s he sees good in both players but also, as was the case Tuesday, room for improvement.
“They obviously need to continue to improve,” he said. “Right now, Ryan is a little ahead as a pocket passer, and Kincade is a little ahead at running the entire scope of our offense.”