By Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – If Bo Wallace had been able to quit while he was ahead, he might be ahead this morning in the quarterback race at Ole Miss.
Ole Miss coaches do not place Wallace or his competitor, Barry Brunetti, with a lead against the other, but Wallace protected the ball better Saturday for most of the first major scrimmage of August camp.
The workout was down to its final plays when safety Cody Prewitt picked off a Wallace pass near the goalline.
“If he makes a good throw the guy scores, and we all have a different opinion of how the scrimmage went. That’s sort of how human nature is, I guess,” co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Dan Werner said.
Wallace finished 10 for 23 for 134 yards with two interceptions, the second coming on the last play when defensive tackle Gilbert Pena read the screen pass and made the play.
A frustrated Wallace said he was trying to make something happen, and the defensive lineman made a “lucky” play.
Wallace did have the only touchdown pass, a 28-yarder to Randall Mackey that was a whole lot of Mackey after a short pass to the right side.
Brunetti finished 12 for 24 passing for 76 yards and two interceptions. He called his play “unacceptable.”
Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze agreed but applied that assessment to both players, not just Brunetti.
“They started off bad, and it took them a while to get their composure. They did have some drops. We’re a long way from where we need to be at that position,” he said.
The offense did produce some highlights in the run game, particularly from freshmen I’Tavius Mathers and Jaylen Walton.
Mathers had a 2-yard touchdown run set up by a 41-yard pass from Wallace to Philander Moore and finished with 47 yards on 10 carries. Mathers also had the day’s only lost fumble.
Walton showed elusiveness inside and ran for 30 yards on seven carries, also scoring on a 2-yard run.
Starting tailback Jeff Scott, who took a hit to the head during the week, was held out as a precautionary measure.
In the effort to replace Collins Moore at the inside receiver, Philander Moore finished with two catches for 53 yards, Korvic Neat had one catch for 15 yards.
Gilbert makes impact
Defensively, Gilbert’s highlights weren’t limited to the last play. He also had six tackles and a sack. Brishen Mathews, Carlos Thompson and Cameron Whigham had sacks, and Quntavius Burdette and Senquez Golson joined Pena and Prewitt with interceptions.
Werner is hoping the second week of camp brings better play from his quarterbacks.
“They made some really good decisions. Once we protect the football, then we’ve got to get consistent. The next step is to win games. Right now we’re basically trying to not lose the game,” he said.