Race to the Finish

Junior quarterback Barry Brunetti isn't nervous. Far from it.

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No, Brunetti, who has battled sophomore transfer Bo Wallace for months to be named Ole Miss' starting quarterback, is singularly focused as his team readies to open its season against Central Arkansas Saturday at 6 p.m.

"I really don't care anymore," he said. "I just want to go out there and win in some type of way. When I go out there, I want to do my part and help the team win."

So, whoever head coach Hugh Freeze decides is his starting quarterback, Brunetti is good with it. Freeze said Monday he'll name a starter "around Wednesday."

"Not many butterflies right now," Brunetti said. "I'd probably say around this time last year, probably sweating. It kind of feels like another game now.

"I really don't care who starts. I know we're both going to play. We're both going to get an equal amount of reps. Whoever's the guy who goes out there to start, hopefully starts us off right and puts some points on the board the first drive."

Brunetti and Wallace have been the principal players at quarterback since spring practices, when senior Randall Mackey, who started six games last season at the position, was moved to wide receiver.

Mackey has since moved to running back, where he's listed with Jeff Scott as a co-starter.

Freeze reiterated Monday his intention to play both Brunetti and Wallace against Central Arkansas.

"To me, going into game one, their kind of co-ones," Freeze said. "I don't get caught up into depth charts anyway, really. I want to know who can play. Who rolls out there the first series, I don't get too hung up with.

Bo Wallace
Associated Press

"I think the kids care about that some and that matters to them. But at the end of the day, if they made plays for our football team, they'll be happy. And so will the coaches."

Wallace said Freeze hasn't tipped his hand on which way he's leaning.

"Y'all know as much as we know," he said. "We don't sit in there in a meeting and talk about it. Y'all know as much as I do. Obviously, you want to know as soon as possible. I have two more days to go out there and show them I should be the starter."

Unlike Brunetti, Wallace is nervous. Nervous not because of Freeze's soon-to-come announcement, but because he's nearing his first game at Ole Miss.

"I'm real excited about it," he said. "Obviously, my anxiety will get kicked up each day we go by. By Thursday, it'll be real serious. A couple days before a game, I'll have really bad anxiety. Not really nervousness, just anxiety for the game."

A bout with nerves is nothing new for Wallace, who signed with Ole Miss in December following a record-setting career at East Mississippi Community College.

Wallace set the NJCAA record for passing yards last season with 4,476 yards in leading EMCC to a national title. He totaled 53 touchdown passes.

As soon as the ball is snapped, Wallace said the anxiety will disappear.

"As soon as the kickoff," he said. "As soon as that first play I'm in. It's just football. Once you get out there, it's the same game you've been playing since 6th grade. It's just going out there and playing."

One thing's for sure: Freeze is going to play the hot hand. If Wallace is rolling, he'll remain in the game. Same for Brunetti. Saturday, it's all about who is producing and putting points up.

"I've thought about it. If I'm named the starter, I plan on scoring every drive," Wallace said. "I think that's really important -- going out there and scoring, and not being taken out of the game. You're scoring every drive, he's probably not going to take you out. That's my main focus right now."

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