Down to Two

Barry Brunetti finally received the word he was waiting to hear Tuesday night. The sophomore transfer was named Ole Miss' starting quarterback.

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However, the circumstances weren't what he had hoped for. No, Randall Mackey, his good friend and chief competition this fall, was removed from the three-man race to be Ole Miss' starter due to an arrest for disorderly conduct Monday night.

Head coach Houston Nutt named Brunetti the starter against BYU a day later.

"I'm kind of excited, but at the same time, it's kind of sad," Brunetti said. "At the same time, Mackey's like my best friend here. I've just got to prepare and take these days one step at a time. Go in, watch film every day and get comfortable with BYU and what they do."

Brunett transferred from West Virginia in January. The NCAA granted Brunetti a waiver to play immediately in April. NCAA transfer rules stipulate a year-in-residence requirement for players who transfer from one Division-I institution to another.

"It's exciting, especially being able to start the first game," Brunetti said. "Coming into this exciting season and being able to be the one to take that first snap, it's a blessing. Like I said, I've just got to take it one play at a time and just try to lead this team as best way I can. Only thing that's on my mind is coming out with a victory that day."

Brunetti said he spoke with Mackey Tuesday morning. The conversation was "just football," according to Brunetti, with much of the discussion centered on BYU. And Mackey was in good spirits.

Barry Brunetti
Chuck Rounsaville

"Just talking about BYU and football and how everything's going to be when he gets back. He was the same way, smiling Randall. Same thing. Wasn't nothing different. Yesterday's in the past. We've forgotten about it," Brunetti said.

Though Brunetti will start, Nutt announced junior quarterback Zack Stoudt will play, as well. Unlike Brunetti and Mackey, dual-threat quarterbacks, Stoudt is a traditional drop-back passer.

"Excited. It's a great opportunity," Stoudt said. "Came here to get that opportunity, now I'm getting it, so I'm excited. Me and Barry, we're both excited and we're not angry that we're both playing. We think we've got a good game plan going in. We should come out strong and have a good offense."

Stoudt doesn't anticipate offensive chemistry being a problem with two quarterbacks rotating in. All three, he said, have been given equal reps with the first-team offense throughout August practices.

"I don't think chemistry is going to be a problem," he said. "I think we've all had pretty much equal reps throughout camp and the offense is OK with all three of us. As far as complementing each other, Barry is more aggressive in the running game; I'm more aggressive in the passing game.

"I think it's going to make it harder for the defense to adjust to, you know, two totally different styles of offense. We can both run the entire offense; just one of us runs different segments of it better."

Mackey's arrest was the second in four days for the Ole Miss football team. Tight end Jamal Mosley was arrested for public drunkenness over the weekend.

Brunetti and Stoudt don't believe the incidents will prove to be a distraction over the preseason's final two weeks.

"It's hard to tell. We're constantly talking to each other, but at one point in time, we've got to come together as one unit and just stop it," Brunetti said. "Even through all this, on our mind is BYU. We're still focused on that one game, September 3rd."

"Good. Really good," Stoudt said of the team's response to the incident Tuesday. "I mean, we came out and had a great practice today. That's it. We've handled it really well, not let it bother us. Moving on."

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