Quarterback Leadership

John L. Smith knows senior Tyler Wilson is capable of getting after a teammate, but Hugh Freeze said he's still waiting for that kind of leadership to emerge with sophomore Bo Wallace. Here's thoughts from the two head coaches after the SEC teleconference on Wednesday.

Arkansas and Ole Miss square off Saturday morning in Little Rock with the quarterbacks taking center stage. Arkansas will go with senior Tyler Wilson, the SEC's returning all-league performer. Ole Miss goes with sophomore newcomer Bo Wallace.

How those two lead their teams was one of the subjects that UA coach John L. Smith and Ole Miss' Hugh Freeze covered in Wednesday's visit with the media on the SEC coaches teleconference.

Smith said he's not surprised by the demonstrative way Wilson leads given his experience in the system and on the field. He said it's not always in the makeup of a quarterback to grab the reins, but Wilson does it with ease.

"He's been in the program for five years," Smith said. "Anytime you're a fifth-year guy coming around, you should be, particularly with that position playing quarterback, it puts you in the spotlight.

"It almost forces you to have to be the guy out in front, the guy wearing the hat, if you might term it that way. That's what that position demands. He's been placed in that position over the last four years. And then his ability to just assume that role. Some guys kind of cherish it and look forward to it and embrace it. other guys kind of shun it and don't necessarily want that.

"Tyler's a guy that embraces that role, knows that that's the role that he should play, and is demanded of him. So he embraces it, he relishes it, and he's not afraid of it. in today's society with kids, it's sometimes hard for guys to stump, let's say, their peers, or lead their peers, or say, ‘Hey, let's do this right. You're doing this wrong.'

"Tyler's not afraid to do that. For him to get out in front, it's been something that he's relegated himself to over the years now. He's not one of these guys who's afraid to say, ‘OK, we're doing this wrong. We have to do this better.' … Again, it's just one of those things, he's cherished that role, he's been forced into that role, and he's embraced that role. His leadership is valuable for us.

"Because again, it's not only what he does on the field. He's not afraid to stand up and talk and tell people, ‘This is what we should be doing.'"

Wallace is a sophomore, but he's in his first fall at Ole Miss. He led East Mississippi JC to the national championship last fall, setting passing records. He was named the Ole Miss quarterback after a spring battle. He spent a redshirt season at Arkansas State in 2010.

Freeze was asked if Wallace is comfortable telling teammates when they are playing well and also correcting their mistakes when they don't play so well?

"Don't think so," Freeze said. "I haven't seen that yet. I think that it's part of the process for quarterbacks in this league. Hopefully they'll get to that point. I don't think he's there yet.

"He may do some of that on the sideline in 1-on-1 stuff. I haven't witnessed it yet. I don't think that's something that's occurring all the time. I think that's one of the next steps in his maturing process for him to feel the comfort level to do those things. It's very hard, cause he's hard on himself.

"People may not know that about him because he's pretty resilient and he's so competitive. but when you're that way and you don't perform to your level or to the level the expectations are, I think it's very difficult for you to do that. We have to in all honesty say until the last two weeks he's performed well with the exception of really one throw. And so hopefully if he can continue, that comfort level to do that will increase."

Both Arkansas and Ole Miss are coming off open dates. How have they handled that break after taking a day or two off over the weekend to heal the bumps and bruises?

"After coming back off of the bye, we had a day off on Monday of course, which is our normal academic day, and then we got after it again yesterday," Smith said. "It was a very good practice day for us (Tuesday).

"We enjoyed actually the week off and trying to get bumps and bruises taken care of and all of that. But we went out yesterday and had a great attitude and great energy and a good practice. We're looking forward to getting back to Little Rock, which is always good to play down there because the atmosphere is fantastic. So we're looking forward tot his week and getting going again."

Freeze said the Rebels needed the bye week, too.

"Well, the open week was nice to have to try to get some kids healed up and at the same time, it's always a concern with you have that off time how they'll respond and come back," Freeze said. "Yesterday's practice was a little sluggish, but it picked up as the practice went on.

"Hopefully we'll have a much better day today. We're excited to get back out. I know that Arkansas' playing their best football of the year as of late and know that we'll have a great challenge ahead of us."

Freeze was asked about the problems the Razorbacks present.

"Offensively, they've been very impressive all year," Freeze said. "And then the games where they did not have turnovers or the quarterback was healthy, they've been extremely impressive.

"As of late, they've improved. If you look at that roster, you've got arguably three, four, five guys that are going to be taken in the early rounds of the NFL Draft. They present a great challenge, and one of the best quarterbacks in our league with talented receivers and running backs. I think it's a great challenge to stop them.

"Even with their early struggles, they still average quite a few yards offensively. Hopefully we can make them earn the points that they get, they're not big plays, and that we are very good in our red zone defense and hold them to some field goals when they get down there. Because they will. They're going to have opportunities to score.

"Defensively, the last two weeks they've really, really come on. You can tell there are young kids that they're playing, particularly on the back end. Their front four have been solid all year. And now their back-end guys are playing a lot better."

Smith said the Rebels stand out to him because of the speed in all areas.

"Well again, I think they're athletic … like I've said all along," Smith said. "They're like Ole Miss always is, very, very athletic football team. I guess if I were to have to pick someone athletically, a lot like Auburn. Very athletic.

"Stylewise, maybe a little bit more like an A&M, let's say. I guess if … they're a real athletic football team, so they kind of fit into the teams that we've been playing. I like their athleticism and the way they run around the field. Those guys, they can call fly around."

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