By Parrish Alford
HOOVER, Ala. – There are a lot of expectations for Ole Miss football this season.
One of them was met with disappointment Thursday as SEC Media Days began to wind down.
Bo Wallace, the most experienced quarterback in the conference, is entering his third season as the Rebels’ starter. He’s already second on the school’s career passing yardage list. He’s helped a program in disarray in 2011 win 15 games, and he’s twice been a bowl game MVP.
He did not expect to be named preseason All-SEC third team.
“I didn’t think I would be first. I thought Nick Marshall would be first, the way he led (Auburn) to the national championship (game) you can’t argue against that,” Wallace told the crowd gathered at his table. “ I didn’t think I was going to be third.”
That only leaves second, and that spot was occupied by Mississippi State’s Dak Prescott.
Wallace’s passing numbers were better (257.4 ypg, 64.8 percent completions), Prescott’s rushing numbers were better (75.4 ypg, 13 TD).
But Prescott won “the game,” coming off the bench late to lead the Bulldogs past Ole Miss last November. He scored what proved to be the winning touchdown in overtime. Wallace fumbled into the MSU end zone on the game’s final play to seal it for the Bulldogs.
“If we win that game at Mississippi State the voting’s going to be a lot different. The hype is going to be a lot different. That’s why that’s happening,” Wallace said.
Marshall was indeed the first-team choice with 241 points. Prescott (118) and Wallace (94) were closer to one another than they were to Marshall.
In a season where both teams seem well-positioned for possible success against a transition Western Division which Mississippi team has the best SEC quarterback has been a hot topic.
More leadership, consistency
Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze said he’d like to see more leadership and consistency from Wallace.
Now a year removed from shoulder surgery and having spent part of the off-season in southern California with shoulder specialist Tom House, Freeze is optimistic that Wallace will score well in both categories.
“I’m really pleased with the progress he’s made in leading our football team and in going about his business. He graduated, which is good. Now he can spend extra time watching film and studying now that he has his degree,” Freeze said. “He’ll continue to be talked to about understanding you don’t have to make a play every play. That’s not all bad either. He’s got that competitive streak in him that he thinks he can make it.”
That competitive streak showed Thursday with what he perceived as a preseason All-SEC snub, one that he equates directly to his performance against MSU.
Wallace heard about the voting on his way to Hoover.
“I wasn’t happy about it. It puts a chip on my shoulder. I’m ready for the year, and I’m ready for that game,” he said.