Wallace: A Gamer?

Ole Miss QB Bo Wallace can't give an explanation of why, but he says he's always been better in games than in practice.

Wallace didn't do much to bowl over his coaches in spring training, but in the Grove Bowl, he lit it up.

Coming back for fall camp, kind of the same thing. He did OK, but he didn't blow his main competition - Barry Brunetti - away. He kind of sneaked by to win the job in the last week.

The opener with Central Arkansas rolled around with a big question mark at quarterback.

How would Wallace respond? Would that critical position be a plus or a minus?

It didn't take long to get an answer.

The lights came on and Wallace came alive, completing 20 of 24 passes for 264 yards and two TDs and rushing for a team-leading 82 yards and a touchdown in his debut as a Rebel.

His effort earned him a school record for total offense in a debut game and after one week he ranks second in the SEC in total offense and 4th in the league in passing efficiency (194.9).

In football vernacular, Bo Wallace appears to be "a gamer," someone who excels with a crowd watching.

It's a phenomena that is not exclusive to Wallace. Throughout football history, there have been many documented "gamers," guys who play better than they practice.

But it is something Wallace can't fully explain.

"I've always been that way. I'm so much more relaxed in a game environment than I am in practice," he said. "Practice, to me, is harder than a game. Obviously, we'll play better teams as we go down the road, but I've always been more confident and comfortable in games than in practice.

Bo Wallace
Andy Strickland

"I'm really into the games. I'm very intense and focused. I guess that translates into better execution, I don't know. It's just the way I'm wired and I don't know why. In games, it just seems things become clearer for me."

Last year at East Mississippi Community College, Wallace came out of spring training not even knowing if he would win the QB job there.

"My coach told me he didn't know if I could get it done or not," he said.

Wallace went on to set national JUCO passing records and was named the JUCO Player of the Year.

Then, on to Ole Miss where, thus far, the "trend" has continued through one outing.

Wallace feels he did some things well against UCA, but he knows he can improve in some areas and needs to as the competition levels progress upward.

"I anticipated throws pretty well and made some good reads, but I need to get better with my ball security in the pocket and when I'm running. I was a little loose with the ball in the pocket and when I ran it," he said. "Ball security will be my main thing to work on this week."

Wallace fumbled going into the end zone trying to stretch for the goal, but WR Ja-Mes Logan covered the loose ball for a Rebel TD. Wallace took it in stride.

"We were down and I was just trying to make a play. I'm glad we covered it because I would have gotten an earful form Coach (Hugh) Freeze if we hadn't," he laughed.

Wallace believes being named the starter has been beneficial to him as a rising, developing offensive leader.

"To be the starter gives me more opportunity to lead," he stated. "I think my teammates believe I can play a little bit now and I think they'll listen when I talk."

UTEP is up next. The Miners are a team that went toe-to-toe with Oklahoma in Norman mainly due to stubborn defense.

"They'll try to go man a lot and jam our receivers," he said. "We'll have to get ready for their blitzes and our receivers will have to beat the jams at the line of scrimmage. We're excited."

And the Rebs' state of mind?

"We gained some needed confidence against UCA. We got a boost, but we get that the road gets tougher and tougher. We know we have to keep working and stay on top of our games, improving the things we did wrong and growing each week," Wallace closed.

Will the "gamer" legacy continue to grow?

We'll find out Saturday, but it's certainly in Wallace's football history.

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