By Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – Barry Brunetti expected a nervous Saturday night, but his Ole Miss coaches didn’t indicate that a quarterback decision was necessarily close at hand.
Rebels coach Houston Nutt pronounced August camp a success as classes begin Monday, but the search for a starter moves ahead.
“Yeah, I wanted to do it as quick as we could, but these guys are competing,” Nutt said. “I don’t feel like there has to be a certain due date.”
Randall Mackey was the first quarterback on the field Saturday for the second major scrimmage of camp, followed by Brunetti and Zack Stoudt.
All three did some good things throwing the ball, Brunetti and Stoudt with a little more consistency than Mackey, though Mackey excited the crowd with a 53-yard touchdown pass to freshman Donte Moncrief near the end of the nearly two-hour workout.
Before the long completion, his last pass attempt, Mackey was 3-for-8 for 16 yards and an interception.
Brunetti finished the scrimmage 4-for-8 for 73 yards with a touchdown, and Stoudt was 7-for-15 for 91 yards.
Brunetti had a 32-yard completion to reserve tight end Layton Jones down the right sideline on a his first series and later hit another tight end, Jamal Mosley for a nice gain down the middle. The Mosley catch was wiped out by an ineligible man downfield penalty.
Brunetti got his team into the end zone on his second series when he rolled right, avoided the rush of safety Cody Prewitt and found his running back, Devin Thomas. Thomas broke a tackle and scored on the 26-yard play.
Thomas led all rushers with 54 yards and a touchdown on eight carries. Receivers Moncrief and Philander Moore scored on runs of 35 and 24 yards.
“We’re all concerned and anxious. We all have our times, and we all have our struggles. Tonight we’ll be kind of nervous. You really don’t know, but whoever gets it, we’ll support them,” Brunetti said.
“We’re all anxious. We’re trying our best not to let it bother us. If you let it bother you it will destroy you,” he said.
Offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach David Lee cited the various strengths of the three candidates as making the decision a difficult one, in essence drawing out the process.
There may be anxious moments, but for Brunetti, Stoudt and Mackey, the ride continues.
“If you’re talking about the best option quarterback, no question it’s Brunetti, the best drop-back passer, no question it’s Stoudt. If it’s the best to be elusive, to extend a play and that can run the option, it’s Mackey,” Lee said. “We’ll sort through this, watch more tape and name a starter when we’re ready. We’re not ready to name one yet.”