Double Trouble

Ole Miss backup QB Barry Brunetti struggled throwing the football last year. Consequently, opposing defenses knew what was going to happen when he entered the game - the Rebs' version of the Wildcat. This year, things have changed.

During the 2012 season, Rebel fans would sometimes scratch their collective heads when backup QB Barry Brunetti would enter a game.

The debate was endless.

"The defense knows we are going to run the ball."

"It's too predictable!"

"He can't throw!"

That sentiment carried over into this season, even though Brunetti was vital to a late-season surge a year ago and even though he had worked his tail off in the offseason to shore up that deficiency.

Brunetti kept his eyes forward and ignored the doubts.

"God blessed me with a good arm. I know I can throw the football, I just hit a slump at the wrong time," Brunetti said after the Troy game.

Don't look now, but Brunetti has become double trouble, enough so that when he's in the game he is a threat to throw, defenses don't know what play is coming and the offense is not predictable with him in the lineup.

Brunetti is now 20-34 (59%), for 284 yards, 6 touchdowns and no interceptions on the year passing the football.

Barry Brunetti
Associated Press

While those aren't mind-boggling stats, they are efficient and cannot be ignored by defensive coordinators trying to game plan the Rebels.

"When I'm in there now, I can see the defense is on their heels a little bit," he noted. "Before, when I came in, they'd just check to a run defense. Now, they can't do that as much.

"They have to respect that I can throw the ball too. They have to play more honestly."

Obviously, that helps everything.

"When I'm a threat to throw, it gives the run game more room to operate. When the defense crowds the box on me, the coaches have now given me the option to throw," he explained. "They don't know if it's run or throw and that opens up everything a little more.

"I thank Coach (Hugh) Freeze and the offensive coaches for gaining that trust in me."

Brunetti claims he didn't lose confidence in his right wing, but he does admit that it affected his play.

"Like I said, I know I can throw. I have a strong, good arm. I just wasn't making the throws I needed to make," he added. "While my confidence didn't get down, it wasn't exactly soaring either.

"Put it this way, I'm very confident in my passing right now and a confident athlete is a more productive athlete. I always knew I could make these throws, but I had to prove it to my coaches and teammates."

Whereas Brunetti, at times prior to proving he could run or throw successfully, had body language that indicated he was struggling mentally, now it appears he cannot wait for his number to be called.

"I can contribute to this team in a meaningful way if I continue to throw the way I have been this year," he closed. "It feels good to come out of that slump and know people aren't cringing when I go back to throw.

"My coaches and teammates believe in me. I believe in myself. I'm grateful I have overcome that stigma."

Double trouble.

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