In 2012, Ole Miss QB Bo Wallace ended the year with 22 touchdown passes and 17 interceptions. This year, through eight games, his TD-to-interceptions, 11-3, is a much more pleasing ratio.

In the middle of a play, Bo?

Against LSU, Bo?

That's what he said. . . when asked what the difference is this year to what he did last year, Ole Miss Quarterback Bo Wallace referred to the middle of a play against the Tigers.

"I was rolling out and saw a small window to throw to," he said. "I thought to myself, 'last year I would have tried to squeeze that one in.' This year, I checked down and went to another receiver.

"It's all about making better decisions and not trying to do too much. Take what the play gives you and move to the next play. It took me time to learn that, but I get it now."

In a nutshell, that's the difference in Wallace last year and Wallace this year from a mental approach.

It also should be noted, for the sake of clarity and full disclosure, that Wallace - it is well-documented - was playing with a severely separated shoulder a year ago as well. This year, that is not an issue.

While his touchdown totals are slightly down, his interceptions are substantially down - a good tradeoff.

"My main focus this year has been taking care of the ball. The yards, the TDs, the big plays will all take care of themselves in this system if you don't turn the ball over," said an obviously more mature quarterback.

Bo Wallace
USA TODAY images

Wallace, like 99% of college quarterbacks, had to learn the hard way, through experience.

"Until you actually play on this level, you don't understand the difference," he continued. "The SEC is really tough. Anyone can beat you and every team has players who will be in the NFL one day.

"You can never let your guard down, not for one second."

The windows of opportunity, and passing lanes, are smaller as well.

"In high school the passing windows were yards. In JUCO, they were a yard or two. In the SEC, the windows are reduced down to a foot or two," Wallace explained. "Every level you go to, the demands on accuracy are intensified.

So here he is, the QB of a 5-3 Rebel team facing an open week and then the stretch run of four games, three at home.

"I'm very excited about having an open week. My body is beat up and I know guys who get hit a lot more than I do are beat up, so it's good week for everyone to get healthy," he stated.

For the Rebels, it's eyes forward, but he was happy to oblige when asked to assess the season thus far.

"We have played hard every game and had really good focus with the exception of the Auburn game," he said. "I wish we had more focus headed into that game. Even in pregame, I could tell we were down a little, not our usual demeanor.

"Overall, though, we have given good effort and that's what our goal is every week. We only slipped once."

The Rebels were 5-3 after eight games last year as well, but this season feels a little different, with an asterisk.

"We've been through the meat of our schedule and feel pretty good about where we are, but at the same time, you can't take any team in the SEC for granted, no matter what their record is," Wallace said. "Anyone in our league can beat you.

"We cannot let our guard down. It's the SEC. Anyone you play will have great players, regardless of their record. If you are not on your game, you lose. It's pretty simple and something we understand fully."

Bo Wallace
Bruce Newman

Wallace, always one to deflect credit, said the secret to his success this year has been the players around him.

"The offensive line has progressed real well and we are now able to run the ball inside and outside. They have gotten an attitude about them here lately. When they have that mindset of getting nasty, that's when we turn it on offensively. To get the run game going is huge for us in this offense. When we have the run game going, we are going to have good offensive production," he said. "And our receivers and backs are making plays, which doesn't surprise me at all.

"Our program is getting stronger. You realize that when guys like Jeff Scott are out and guys like Jaylen (Walton) and I'tavius Mathers are stepping up and we are missing a beat. We knew it was coming with these guys, we see it in practice every day, but to see it in games is really good and it makes my job so much easier."

Granted, there are still four tough games to go in the season. Games in which anything can happen, but if Bo Wallace continues on the path he is on - taking care of the football - the chances for Ole Miss wins rises significantly.

It's a different mindset, one that is paying dividends in the life of an SEC quarterback.

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