Brunetti Battling

The quarterback position is awfully crowded right now in the early stages of spring training, but already junior Barry Brunetti has shown signs of being one of the leading candidates for the job.

Seven, yes, seven, quarterbacks are vying in spring training for the top spot on next year's Ole Miss football team.

For now, that means watering down practice reps for each. As spring continues, and some start to show more production during their opportunities to run the team, that will change, but right now, each has to make the most of limited chances.

"I wouldn't say that having limited reps puts more pressure on you to perform when you do get your shot, but you are aware that you have to make the most of every snap," said junior Barry Brunetti, one of the candidates. "The other thing that makes it difficult is getting into a rhythm.

"To get out there for a few reps and then sit for a while can get you out of your rhythm, but the positive thing is that while you are watching, you can get mental reps, which we all need too. You can get cold physically, but you better pay attention and learn mentally."

Brunetti, despite competition from the returning two QBs - Randall Mackey and Zack Stoudt - and two newcomers - JUCO Bo Wallace and greyshirt Maikhail Miller, entered spring, due to a strong finish last season, with confidence.

"I am more comfortable and confident now and I think my teammates gained trust in me because of the way I ended up last year," he stated. "It also boosted my confidence.

"I'm used to competing with Randall and Zack, so we're just adding a couple of more in Bo and Maikhail. That doesn't put any more pressure on any of us. I also know the coaches are recruiting the transfer from Maryland (Danny O'Brien), but I can't worry about that. If he comes here, he's still got to come in and compete - the coaches aren't going to just give him the job. I'm not tripping out about that one way or the other."

It's always been known that Barry can run the ball and he's has reenforced that belief with some of his early play in the QB read/read option stuff the Rebels will run.

But the knock on Barry to this point has been his passing.

"I worked hard on that in the offseason. I worked on my footwork and I have worked on my arm. I feel my feet are better and my arm is more lively now," he noted. "I have seen improvement, but not like I want to.

"I've made strides, but I believe I can still do a lot more in the passing game."

Brunetti is confident in the long ball and the dump passes, but the intermediate routes, by his own admission, need continued work.

"The stuff across the middle, the 10-12-yard routes, are what are causing me the most issues, but I'm working hard on those throws. I've always felt good about the short throws and long throws. It's the in-betweens that I have to improve."

Brunetti says he likes the pace being used in practice and the fast pace of the offense in general.

"I did that in high school some and we did that at West Virginia before I transferred here," he noted. "The scheme and the terminology are new to me, but the pace isn't new. I love it."

That pace gives an offense an advantage, Brunetti says.

"One thing it does for sure is tire out the defensive linemen," he smiled. "It also prevents a lot of wholesale personnel changes by the defense between plays. It also prevents a lot of movement by the defense after you come to the line of scrimmage because they know it's likely to be a quick snap.

"There are a lot of advantages to the fast pace offense and we intend to capitalize on those advantages."

After just three practices, there is no real depth chart at QB, but Brunetti and Wallace are getting the most mentions from Coach Hugh Freeze and QB Coach Dan Werner to this point.

Brunetti is not counting his chickens before they hatch, however.

"We are just getting started. All of us have a lot of work to do and a lot to prove. I'm here for the long haul," he closed. "Let the best man win. I'm going to do everything I can to make sure it's me.

"I know I have my work cut out for me because everyone is good and everyone wants the job, but I'm all about competing and staying the course. I'm excited to be in the mix."

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