Passing efficiency key to Rebels' big offensive outburst in opener

By Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal

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OXFORD – Ole Miss fans saw what Hugh Freeze did at Arkansas State last year. They saw their own offense struggle.
In the season-opener against Central Arkansas, they were able to get a glimpse of what the future might hold.
What they saw was efficiency in the passing game as quarterbacks Bo Wallace and Barry Brunetti repeatedly were on the money with short, high-percentage throws. Combined, Ole Miss quarterbacks were 25 for 31, an 80.6 success rate.
“That’s who we are. We’ll take our shots. Last year, my deal was we’re going to take three shots a quarter and felt like we’d still get the first down. I don’t know that we’re at that stage in our program,” Freeze said.
The Rebels did have downfield pass attempts, one of them with Wallace standing in the pocket as the back side end getting uncomfortably close to hit Donte Moncrief in stride. The play covered 53 yards and gave the Rebels a 28-20 lead with 3 minutes, 20 seconds left in the third quarter.
However, deep shots were something that got Ole Miss in trouble when UCA made its move out to a 20-14 lead. Freeze said his play-calling contributed to a lull for his offense.
Last year, Arkansas State quarterback Ryan Aplin completed 304 of 476 attempts, 63.8 percent. That was almost seven percentage points below the rate Freeze wants for his quarterbacks.
“People laugh at me when I say I’d like us to complete 70 percent, but I’ve seen it happen,” Freeze said.
Wallace was 20 for 24 against UCA and had two drops, one by tight end Ferbia Allen, another by running back Jaylen Walton. Brunetti was 5 for 7.
Wallace says the short passing game goes along with the pace of the offense.
“Even if we’re not in our fast pace, we’re going to push the tempo,” he said.
parrish.alford@journalinc.com