By Parrish Alford
OXFORD – There is nothing like on-the-job training, particularly when the job is playing quarterback in the SEC.
Ryan Buchanan was glad for the classroom experience of the 2013 season. Now as a redshirt freshman in the race for No. 2, he’s excited to be able to more fully apply what he’s learned.
Ole Miss will go into fall with the SEC’s most experienced starting quarterback in Bo Wallace but with no experience for his backup – either Buchanan, a pure pocket passer, or DeVante Kincade, also a redshirt freshman and a dual-threat guy.
This week and next are big ones for the young guys as they begin to get more first-team snaps in practice.
“This is really our first opportunity today to get that chance. The next two weeks we’ll get a lot more opportunities to run with the ones. We’ll see,” Buchanan said.
While there is no opening for a quarterback starter, there is one for the change-of-pace guy. For two years, Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze used a more mobile quarterback, Barry Brunetti, to spell Wallace and give the defense a look it hadn’t seen.
Brunetti’s running made it an often-successful approach, and it’s that role that would cater more to Kincade’s strengths than Buchanan’s.
At 6-foot-3, Buchanan has a height advantage over Kincade, who is listed at an even 6-foot.
Freeze has said he doesn’t expect either player to be entrenched at No. 2 when spring drills end with the Grove Bowl on April 5.
“I think they’re both right there,” said Dan Werner, the Rebels’ co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. “We’ll keep on grading them and see where they end up at the end of the spring. I’m pleased with both of them, and they both have a long way to go. They’re working hard, and they’re both going to be really good quarterbacks for us one day.”
A four-star recruit, Buchanan grew up an Ole Miss fan and attended Jackson Prep. He also attracted interest from Florida and Alabama.
Labeled a pocket passer, he doesn’t consider himself a stiff and compares his mobility to Wallace’s. He says he’s growing in his ability to run the read option, a very important call in the Ole Miss offense.
“I feel more comfortable running it,” he said. “Sometimes I may need to read it a second earlier. It’s just going to take time, and I feel like I’m getting better at it.”