PARRISH ALFORD: Table is set for intriguing QB battle

PARRISH ALFORD

PARRISH ALFORD

OXFORD

If you’d have asked me prior to SEC Media Days who’d have been the most quotable among the Ole Miss players, I’d have voted with defensive end C.J. Johnson.

That would have been the wrong choice.

Rebels quarterback Bo Wallace generated more copy because he had a message. He was upset.

Wallace thought he should have been the No. 2 quarterback on the media’s preseason All-SEC team, not third where he landed.

The fact that he was supplanted on the second team by Mississippi State’s Dak Prescott has further fueled discussion about which of our state’s SEC schools has the better quarterback.

Truth of the matter, it’s like comparing a luxury RV and a four-star room from Hotels.com. Both can get you a good night’s sleep, but that’s where similarities end.

Wallace fully expected to be second on the preseason team and went so far as to say he’d have been there except for a four-turnover game in the Rebels’ loss at MSU last Thanksgiving. He’s right, but Maw Maw Bessie would say, “You made your bed …” and you know the rest.

Wallace’s expectation was backed by several of summer’s previous opinions. Phil Steele’s book has Wallace as its No. 2 SEC quarterback, and so does Athlon.

Wallace is the league’s most experienced at his position but clearly in the eyes of SEC media hasn’t done enough to distance himself from the pack in what is considered a down year for the league’s quarterbacks.

To borrow from Bill Parcells, “You are what the numbers say you are.” Wallace had too many interceptions in a seven-win season in 2012 and faltered at the end in 2013.

There were numerous reasons – inexperience as a sophomore, a weak shoulder and limited team depth – but voters viewed these as background noise. There simply haven’t been enough big wins with Wallace as the shining star.

Nor have there been for Prescott, but Prescott had a couple of important elements in his corner to inspire summertime conversation.

The first is style. He’s a tremendously gifted athlete, and we live in a day where running quarterbacks receive high praise. Prescott’s style of running is also intriguing. He’s more bruiser than water bug.

That athleticism is the biggest driver in his Heisman discussion.

The second is momentum. Prescott’s team won its last three games – and in the process, he came off the bench to defeat in dramatic fashion the guy who wants to be the media’s No. 2 quarterback.

The desire for No. 2 has never generated so much discussion. No. 1 on the media’s preseason team is Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall, a better runner than passer.

The biggest thing Marshall did last season was win. It’s what great quarterbacks do, and it’s what will ultimately decide how Wallace and Prescott compare for 2014.

Parrish Alford (parrish.alford@journalinc.com) covers Ole Miss for the Daily Journal. Read his blog at InsideOleMissSports.com.