By Parrish Alford
NASHVILLE – The decision-making ability of Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace was called into question by Rebels coach Hugh Freeze even in the latter stages of the 2012 season.
Wallace threw 22 touchdown passes en route to winning the Conerly Trophy which is awarded to Mississippi’s top college football player.
His aggressive nature sometimes led to poor decisions, a factor in his 17 interceptions.
That’s a figure Freeze wants to see reduced significantly this season. He reminded Wallace of that the first week of August practice when Freeze again called out Wallace for questionable decisions.
Rehabbing after shoulder surgery Wallace missed most of the voluntary summer workouts where quarterbacks throw to receivers. When practice started he felt more like the quarterback that began the 2012 season than the one that finished it.
“I wasn’t comfortable. The game was back like it was last year where it was fast. Then it just slowed down. I feel so much more comfortable now than I did then,” he said.
The shoulder injury that required off-season surgery sometimes played a part in Wallace’s decisions last year. Occasionally he would try to make a throw he’d been able to make previously but late in the season did not have the strength to complete.
“He’s fine,” Offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Dan Werner said. “He just had to work his way back to get the strength and the throwing motion. We haven’t limited his throws in about two weeks.”
There’s been no question that senior Jeff Scott would be the Rebels’ starting running back. Who would emerge as Scott’s primary back-up has been a bit more interesting.
Sophomores I’Tavius Mathers and Jaylen Walton gained some experience in 2012 and were able to hold off freshmen Kailo Moore, Mark Dodson and Jordan Wilkins to earn a spot on the two-deep roster.
Mathers, however, after missing several practices with a sprained ankle, was the only one of the six running backs not to make the trip.
It became clear early in camp that Freeze and his staff were grooming Moore for some type of role, something in which he could use his sprinter speed.
Much of that in practice included quick toss sweeps or short passes.
While Scott is from Florida, the running back picture behind him is almost exclusively Tennessee.
Moore, from Mississippi, played at West Bolivar, but Walton (Memphis), Mathers (Murfreesboro), Dodson (Memphis) and Wilkins (Cordova) are all from Tennessee.
Wilkins’ brother Trey is a junior wide receiver at Vanderbilt.
The Ole Miss roster features 13 players from Tennessee.
Others include tight end Matt Brown, quarterback Barry Brunetti, offensive lineman Jared Duke and kicker Andrew Fletcher.
Long snapper Garrett Kalem, defensive tackle Herbert Moore, tight end Jack Nuismer, offensive lineman Ben Still and Wallace, the starting QB, are also from Tennessee.
Seven of those 13 are from the Memphis area.