After head coach Hugh Freeze announced on Monday that the quarterback race was back open, the competition between sophomore Bo Wallace and junior Barry Brunetti heated up. Wednesday was another good day for Wallace and Brunetti, as the duo again split reps during practice.
“They looked good. They’re competing hard and trying to do things right,” co-offensive coordinator Dave Werner said. “Our big thing is who is going to take care of the football. So we’re going to sit down, Coach Freeze and I, talk about it and figure out what we’re going to do.”
Both players are on track to see action on Saturday against Texas A&M.
“Both looked good today,” Freeze said. “We’ll go in just like we did last night and chart everything and kind of see where we are. Both, I’m sure, will see some action.”
The focus this week for the quarterbacks has been to improve decision-making and taking better care of the ball. Werner thinks the message has sunk in to the signal-callers.
“If not, then they’re hardheaded because we’ve definitely talked about it a lot,” Werner said. “Not only talked, but raised our voices a few times to be honest with you.”
Rebels prepare for fast A&M defense
Much of the attention this week for Ole Miss has been on figuring out how to shut down speedy dual-threat quarterback Johnny Manziel. However, it’s speed on the other side of the football that has Freeze and Werner concerned.
“It’s the fastest defense I think we’ve seen on tape,” Freeze said. “They play with extreme effort, and their speed on the front seven is faster than the ones we’ve seen. No one’s had a lot of success on them. Even in the loss to Florida, there wasn’t very much offense put on them, so I think they do a really nice job.”
To counteract that speed, Ole Miss will attempt to use Texas A&M’s aggressiveness defensively against them.
“We’ll try to use some misdirection and things, and try to catch them off balance,” Werner said. “They love to blitz. When you’re blitzing a lot, sometimes you’ll give up some big plays, too, so hopefully we can catch them out of position.
“We’ll do a lot of motions and shifts and a lot of things that hopefully will, again, catch them off balance.”
One player that has Ole Miss’ full attention is defensive end Damontre Moore, who is in the midst of a fantastic junior season.
The 6-foot-4, 250-pounder enters Saturday with 27 tackles, 10 and a half tackles for loss, six sacks, three quarterback hurries and a forced fumble.
“You better know where he is and have a plan for him,” Freeze said. “He’s a special, special player. He’s a handful.”
Other News & Notes:
To prepare themselves for the running ability of Manziel, Ole Miss is using freshman running back J’Mon Scott on the scout team in practice to simulate the Aggies’ first-year quarterback.
“(He) is the fastest walk-on we have,” Freeze said. “Put him back there and let him run around.”
Junior slot receiver Korvic Neat is questionable for Saturday’s game as he continues to work back from an injured groin that caused him to miss the Tulane and Alabama games.
“He’s questionable,” Freeze said. “He practiced again today, but I don’t know that he’s bursting. I don’t know if it’s because he’s not completely well, or if he’s just worried about it. Right now, it’d be hard for me to throw him out there I think.”
Freshman defensive tackle Woodrow Hamilton is still out with a leg injury, while fellow defensive tackle Uriah Grant practiced and will play Saturday.
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