The fact that Bo Wallace missed all of spring drills after off-season shoulder surgery had its good points.
Wallace is clearly the starter for the 2013 season and didn’t have anything to prove from that point. He did take all the “mental reps” of spring and stayed in tune with what was going on that way.
He also could have benefited from being on the field, working with OC and QB coach Dan Werner to improve his decision-making and reduce his interceptions. Wallace threw 17 picks last year, far too many.
His decision-making was a season-long story line, one that he was able to overcome with his grit, his accuracy and his mobility. He plays hard. That covers a lot of things, but nothing hurts a quarterback more than turnovers.
Still, Ole Miss is far better off than it was a year ago. Wallace is a known commodity with more ups than downs. Certainly he can improve, but it’s much better for the Rebels to go into camp established at quarterback.
With Wallace out Barry Brunetti and Maikhail Miller shared the reps. That was more important for Miller than Brunetti, who also is a known commodity.
Brunetti reminded us that he’s a gifted runner and athlete who can help this team. He didn’t show anything with his passing that made you think he’d taken a giant leap forward in that area.
If Wallace is injured or captured by aliens it will be Brunetti’s job unless he plays himself out of it.
Miller (6-2, 240) is another running quarterback but of a different style, a big, bruising style that frankly exists no place else in the offense.
For that reason, there could be a role for Miller. It would not be surprising to see him become the short-yardage back, take a shotgun snap, choose a hole and hit it.
He did that on third-and-goal in the spring game, and when there was a noisy collision at the goalline, Miller was the winner, advancing into the end zone and basically brushing away the would-be tackler in the process.
Wallace, Brunetti and Miller are your three with experience. There’s not much of it from Miller, but there’s more than there will be with freshmen Ryan Buchanan and Devante Kincade when they arrive this summer.
Lots of hope and expectations for the four-star signees. Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze has said he hopes they will compete for playing time.
That’s always the answer, but the plan may be different. The plan, I suspect, won’t be fully known until camp when the young guys show how well they will acclimate and transition.
Buchanan is the pocket passer, Kincade the dual threat.
Developing as a passer takes longer with reading coverages, making decisions, things like that. It’s possible you could see Kincade on the field before Buchanan. Obviously the dual threat guy has to do those same things, but if he’s on a different plane in terms of quickness and elusiveness Freeze may have a package for him.
Maybe Buchanan shows himself to be a quick learner upon arrival. If Wallace were to go down early in the season maybe Buchanan’s preparation is fast-tracked. There could be an emergency situation where Brunetti starts and leads, but there are series for Buchanan if he proves to be an effective passer.
You must have that kind of passer for the tempo offense to be all it can be. Quarterback runs are great. They give the defense something else to prepare for and keep it off balance.
Right now Bo Wallace is the clear leader in that regard, and Ole Miss is much more settled at the position than it was a year ago.