Calling Signals

The beat goes on. The competition continues. The questions keep coming, and the answers remain, in some way, shape, or form, about the same.

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It's two weeks until kickoff 2012. Saturday morning there'll be another intrasquad scrimmage. There'll be more evaluations, more film or tape or video to watch. Maybe some separation; maybe not.

Both quarterbacks vying for the starting spot at Ole Miss this fall will play a good bit in the early games, Coach Hugh Freeze has said. There seems to be no reason – at this point – to believe that's changed.

There's Barry Brunetti, returning for year two of his stay in Oxford after transferring from West Virginia. And there's Bo Wallace, once at Arkansas State for a redshirt, then leading East Mississippi Community College to a 12-0 season and the NJCAA national championship in 2011 while setting NJCAA single-season records for passing yards (4,604), total yards (4,810) and touchdown passes (53), earning first team All-American and National Offensive Player of the Year honors from NJCAA.

Brunetti played in five games last season for the Rebels, starting two. He played in four games the year before for the Mountaineers.

There's experience at the spot. There's accomplishment. But there's been inconsistency this August, according to Freeze, who will continue to monitor this closely as the season nears.

Barry Brunetti
Chuck Rounsaville

"At the quarterback position, it's probably hard for me to say that right now," said Freeze, meaning he's not yet even ready to say there's much consistency in the signal-caller situation. "But they're getting better."

And maybe even inching toward a more consistent state, which is the hope of the coaching staff in the next couple of weeks.

"It's not as inconsistent as it was," Freeze would at least admit. "But it's still inconsistent to whatever degree you want to put it to. We'll go where we look good throwing two good balls and then our mechanics get sloppy and the ball sails low. Just things we've got to continue to work on."

And then there's that blister on a finger of Wallace's throwing hand that's emerged this week. There's a glove on that hand now, and Wallace said the whole situation is something he's never experienced.

"It's weird," said the Giles County (Tenn.) High School product of the whole situation dealing with the blister. "I tried to throw without a glove, and that kind of opened it back up a little bit. So we'll go in here and get it worked on so hopefully I'll be good for the scrimmage on Saturday."

Freeze did see some positives from Thursday's practice for Wallace.

"He did throw some really nice balls. He had one dropped that would have been a first down, then comes back and throws one in the dirt on an over route. I thought Bo had the best day. I thought he was the best of the two today."

But the fact remains that Freeze knows the finger has to heal for Wallace to be as effective as possible.

Bo Wallace
Chuck Rounsaville

"We've got to get that hand well so it's not a lingering thing," Freeze said, "going on and on when the season starts."

Brunetti, meanwhile, remains in the thick of the race. The Memphis (Tenn.) University School alum knows he, too, has to become more effective.

"That's what we're trying to do right now," said Brunetti of developing consistency. "We're kind of hot and cold, especially for me. Come out and look great one day, and the next day it kind of seems like I don't know what's going on, which I do. But we kind of look hot and cold right now, and we've got to produce that consistency more."

Brunetti said there appears to be more success when a quarterback is with the ones, which is not all that surprising.

"Personally I would say from the looks of it, it seems like whoever is with the ones gets (the offense) moving," he said. "But with the twos you've also got to get moving. Sometimes that's our mistakes in reads and getting receivers right and putting them in the right place."

Brunetti said the offensive line has improved lately.

"They're getting much better, much better," he said. "Tremendously better from the first week. They're starting to get it. They know it. That's with the ones and twos. They know the reads and they know what's going on. It's much better."

Wallace said one aspect in the Rebel quarterbacks' favor has been the defense they've seen in practice, certainly from a preparation standpoint.

"They're throwing everything we'll probably see all year at us," he said. "So just be able to recognize (the defensive situations) better and just deliver the ball."

Saturday's scrimmage is important for all aspects of the team, not just the quarterbacks. Offensive line coach Matt Luke said the intrasquads are valuable for many reasons.

"I think during a scrimmage, you find out more where you really are," Luke said. "You're not standing behind the huddle screaming. They've got to be self motivators on the field. You're not running behind them patting them on the back or getting on to them. They have to be out there on their own and learn how to push themselves. So I think it's huge to find out what they really know."

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