By Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal
As Ole Miss football camp goes, I’ve not yet been overwhelmed by anyone in the quarterback race.
Maybe that comes today, an important day for the three candidates with the first major scrimmage of camp. The scrimmage begins at 6 p.m. at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium and is open to the public.
Barry Brunetti, Randall Mackey and Zack Stoudt have all had moments, but none have jumped up said, “I’m the guy.”
The most intriguing aspect of the competition right now might be the constant presence of Stoudt. This is a guy who was making a push in the spring then got suspended and didn’t play in the spring game.
Offensive coordinator David Lee put a great deal of emphasis on that game-like situation when we talked to him on Monday, and Stoudt wasn’t available for that.
Add to the fact Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt had already talked about how he likes mobility in a quarterback, and it’s not hard to understand why Nutt had Brunetti a little bit ahead when talking to support groups this summer.
On Monday, Lee had Mackey, who got off to a really fast start in the spring, closer to Stoudt than to Brunetti. Brunetti gets the first reps in practice and might get a few more of them. This week the next man up was Stoudt, then Mackey.
Earlier in the week, Lee indicated he hoped to see better understanding of the offense from Mackey. “He has got to get the mental part right,” Lee said.
Mackey, admittedly, was much more comfortable with the option when that part of the offense was installed Thursday.
Lee had other things to say about Mackey and really praised his accuracy as a passer.
Stoudt is a little taller than the others. A true pocket passer, he’s not a stiff. He brings Jevan Snead-like mobility. He has the footwork to buy a couple of crucial extra seconds to make a play downfield. If he has to tuck the ball and run he’s not uncomfortable.
Brunetti is going to hit some passes, get the team in the right play and be a leader. He’ll be a successful runner with his savvy, not so much with speed.
Before Brunetti entered the picture in January, I thought quarterback at Ole Miss could be 70 percent Stoudt, 30 percent Mackey and the Wild Rebel. I had altered that thinking by the end of spring, but it looks as though it could still work out that way.
I do know that if Stoudt wins this job, Brunetti can take a redshirt, and the Rebels can set themselves up with a pretty good situation at quarterback for the next four years, stability in the sense of having talent in the program and having the chance to develop it. That’ something they really haven’t been able to have since Eli. It looked as though that might happen with Snead, but he lost confidence, felt the loss of fan support and left after his junior season.
Brunetti can further develop as passer and win the job right now. He doesn’t have to redshirt, but he does need to get better.
All three of them do.
Parrish Alford (parrish.alford@ journalinc.com) covers Ole Miss for the Daily Journal. He blogs daily about Ole Miss athletics at NEMS360.com.