QB 'Battle' Continues

After three games in a row with "too many" turnovers, the Ole Miss coaches have opted to open up the quarterback job this week with a renewed competition between Bo Wallace and Barry Brunetti.

For a while there, it looked as if Bo Wallace had locked up the starting quarterback job for Ole Miss.

Through five games, Wallace has done a pretty good job directing the offense, completing 62.5% (70-112) of his passes and rushing for an additional 165 yards in a show-no-fear fashion.

But there's a catch, a glitch in the machine, that has raised enough concern with the coaches for them to open back up the competition between Wallace and Barry Brunetti.

Bo has thrown six interceptions and lost a fumble or two along the way.

For months, Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks Coach Dan Werner has shouted from the mountain top there was one main priority for QB play in this system - taking care of the ball.

"Taking care of the ball has been our clear number one message for months," said Werner. "If they don't have the message by now, they are hard-headed, because we have definitely talked about it enough.

"Not only talked, but raised our voice a few times, to be honest."

Consequently, after a two-pick performance against Alabama (Randall Mackey threw the third one in the game), Werner and Coach Hugh Freeze felt there was only one course of action - open up the quarterback spot - again.

"They have both looked good this week. They are competing hard and trying to do things right," Dan continued. "Again, our big thing is who is going to take care of the football?

"Coach Freeze and I will sit down and talk about it and decide what we are going to do."

There's a fine line between coaches stressing something and stressing it too much. There's a point where the constant discussion can take away a player's aggressiveness, which Werner is well aware of.

"If we are turning the ball over, it's an issue and it has to be discussed," he explained. "The thing we do is drill it and drill it and drill it some more, in a positive way.

"Then, if a guy still can't get it done, we find someone who can or try something different."

Unfortunately, quarterback play is not the only thing on Werner's plate this week.

He and the offensive staff also have to prepare for a very fast, aggressive defense in the form of Texas A&M, lurking in the bushes and headed this way Saturday.

"They are very fast. They love to blitz, so we will try to catch them off-balance and try some misdirections and things like that," he said. "When you blitz a lot, sometimes you give up big plays and hopefully we will catch them out of position. We'll throw a lot of motions and shifts at them and, again, try to catch them off-balance."

Even though A&M is scoring 48 points a game so far this year, Werner does not necessarily think of them as an offensive team.

"For years, they have been known for great defense," he said. "This is their first year in the league, but they are an SEC type defense, and always have been.

"We knew before the season, before we ever saw film on them, that we were going to have our hands full with these guys."

Dan said A&M will not bring any wizardry to the table, things they haven't seen before, but they deliver it differently at times.

"There are certain blitzes that everyone likes to run, but A&M probably does more than anybody we have faced before," he noted. "It's nothing out of the ordinary, just more of it in regards to their pressure packages.

"The bottom line is that we have to buckle up and get after them. This is the SEC."


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