By Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – On what was considered a bounce-back day for the offense, Maikhail Miller didn’t bounce, he barreled through.
The former Itawamba AHS star is getting plenty of playing time this spring in the absence of Ole Miss starting quarterback Bo Wallace.
In situational work early in Saturday’s almost two-hour scrimmage, Miller ran off left guard for a 5-yard touchdowns. There was a noisy collision at the goalline, but Miller, 6-foot-2, 240 pounds, was the winner going forward into the end zone.
That was the kind of spunk Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze was hoping to see from his offense after it was dominated in Friday’s work.
With Wallace out nursing a shoulder after off-season surgery most of the quarterback reps have gone to Miller and senior Barry Brunetti. Senior Robert Ratliff had some nice throws in the scrimmage as well.
“I was proud of the offensive staff and the way those guys responded to yesterday’s beatdown,” Freeze said.
There was solid play in the run game and some shining moments in the air.
There were also plays left on the table with dropped passes, late throws or drives hurt with pre-snap penalties.
Quarterbacks, though, were live targets, not in the green no-hit jerseys, and that seemed to help the intensity.
On the whole Freeze judged the day much like he’s judged the progress of Miller – with room to grow. A sophomore, Miller appeared in two games last year, carried six times for 23 yards and did not attempt a pass.
“He’s very inconsistent throwing it. It helped him today being able to use his feet some and run the ball. I thought he was real effective in the Red Zone portion,” Freeze said. “Certainly he’s got the arm strength. He’s kind of like a freshman, really.”
Miller thought Saturday was his best day of spring. He’d like to improve more in making the right reads and going through his progressions on each play.
He says he doesn’t battle the perception that he’s a running quarterback, but Freeze was quick to call his number on the goalline.
“I don’t think my coaches think I’m only a running quarterback, but I can do it,” Miller said. “That was a designed run for me, and it was there.”
Wallace isn’t the only player out this spring. Wide receiver Donte Moncrief and offensive lineman Patrick Junen were held out of the scrimmage as well as linemen Issac Gross and Carlton Martin and safety Dehendret Collins on the defensive side.
Freeze says the absence of his No. 1 quarterback hasn’t kept him from developing his offense in the spring.
“I can’t afford to worry about that. Obviously it’s a concern not having him, but it’s not something I dwell on,” he said.