Next In Line

Bo Wallace is the Rebels’ No. 1 quarterback heading into the 2014 season. With two seasons and 26 games under his belt, nobody in the Southeastern Conference currently has more experience.

Yet he is the only quarterback on the Ole Miss roster with any major college game experience. The two players prominently in the backup role are both redshirt freshmen. DeVante Kincade and Ryan Buchanan were here last year. Both know the program, just not the games.

Both want the opportunity to get on the field this season, in whatever role that means, obviously hoping Wallace remains healthy.

However they both approached the spring, summer, and August camp with the same goal: be ready whenever their name is called to go in.

“My thought process is just looking at right now,” said Buchanan, from Jackson. “I want to be ready for whatever my role is starting with the first game with Boise State. Bo has played unbelievable here. This is his third year. I know there will be a fight between DeVante and me for the 2015 season. But right now it’s the present and I have to be ready whenever my name is called this year.”

“My goal is to come out and try to be the starter,” said Kincade, from Dallas. “That should be every athlete’s goal, to be the starter. But I feel like if I don’t achieve my goal, I can still help my team as best I can. Whatever Coach (Hugh) Freeze wants me to do, I’m going to do it. I’m just waiting to see what that is.”

Ole Miss quarterback Ryan Buchanan.

What Freeze currently wants them both to do is perform better in practice. He isn’t too happy with how they’ve done recently and said so Tuesday.

“Disappointed, to be candid,” Freeze said. “We’re not taking care of the ball well enough. Our timing is off. We just seem to be a little confused.”

He and offensive coordinator/quarterbacks Coach Dan Werner have to get the back-ups to another level of proficiency.

“I told Dan we have to get this cleared up mentally with them and get them playing faster,” he said. “That’s just the way I feel after (Tuesday’s) practice.”

To date, both have worked hard to prepare for this month’s camp. That doesn’t mean they are where they want to be or where their coaches want them to be.

“When I came in (last summer), Coach (Paul) Jackson really changed my body,” Buchanan said. “I was about 6-3 or 6-3 and a half. I weighed about 208. But it was a different kind of weight. It was a lot more fat and a lot less muscle, to be honest. During the (2013) season I went down to about 200 or 202. Now I’m back up to about 212. I weighed in at 213 the last workouts.

“I went down in weight and came back up. I replaced more muscle to replace that fat. I feel I can run a lot better than I could in high school. I can move a lot better now.”

But that’s not all Buchanan has worked on to get to this point.

Ole Miss quarterback DeVante Kincade.

“I just want to stay consistent,” he said. “I have to continue to improve this fall camp. I just need to keep everything going and improving at the same pace.

“After the bowl game, I knew at the spring game a lot of people were going to watch, and I had to build for that and hopefully show really well in that game," Buchanan continued. "After that game I knew there were some things I needed to work on. Going into this season, I just want to be ready. Whatever that is, I want to act like there’s no dropoff. It’ll be hard to compete with what Bo’s done. Bo’s played incredible these past two years.”

Kincade’s physically grown some, and he said that has already helped his game.

"I was about 5-10 and 175,” he said of his arrival last summer. “Now I’m like 6-foot or 6-1 and 205. I just kept growing. My mom is tall, so I knew I’d get taller.

“It’s helped me a lot because it gives me more confidence. Being in the pocket, I used to be shorter and couldn’t really see over the linemen. Now I can see over them and I don’t have to worry about finding holes. I can see them. I’m so much more comfortable now. I can stand back there over the pocket and throw the ball anytime.”

There are some differences in the two. There are also some similarities. One thing that won’t change is what the Rebels do on offense.

“I hear a lot of people say I’m one type of quarterback and he’s another type,” Buchanan said. “But the bottom line is we’re not coming in for (Kincade) to use one talent and me to use another. We’ve got to put whatever we have together to make this work. If he runs better and gets positive yards, that’s great. If I pass some and run some, that’s great. But we’ve both got to pass some and run some. Whoever can do that the most consistently and move the ball, that’s the bottom line. It doesn’t matter what type quarterback you are.”

Ole Miss QBs coach Dan Werner.

Kincade said he liked the Rebels’ offense when he was recruited, and he likes it today.

“I would explain it as a real tempo offense,” he said. “We have a lot of good pass concepts to go with each other. It’s not hard, but it’s not easy. You have to learn the basics of the offense to figure out how to run it. We love tempo. If you don’t know the basic offense, you can’t do tempo.”

Werner said both are coming along, and the future for both is bright. He’s glad to have them on his side.

“The big thing I can see is what they did in the spring,” he said. “I felt one day Ryan would have a better day, and the next day DeVante would. It seemed like it went back and forth all spring.

“Then this summer they worked hard on strength and conditioning, throwing on their own, all the things they can do that I’m not allowed to be around. Now in camp we’ll continue to see who has progressed the most and can win that battle.”

Werner knows development of the two is big, not only for the future but for whatever course this season takes. And he is preparing them with that in mind.

“Both of them need to work on the game management part of it,” he said. “The typical offense or the old school offense, where you get in the huddle, we signal the play in, they call the play, they’ve got time to walk up to the line of scrimmage and be thinking about what’s going on, that doesn’t happen in our offense. It happens so fast. They’ve not only got to learn the scheme, they’ve got to learn it fast. When that ball’s snapped, bam, they’re making decisions.

“Both of them have really strong arms. Both of them move around in the pocket well. We’ll call the same type plays in our scheme, so it’s whoever battles it out and who wins the job. Hopefully Bo stays healthy so both those guys can keep on progressing. In the years to come, it’s going to be fun to see what those guys can do.”

Kincade said it's those "years to come" that have him excited but a bit impatient. He knows it's all about "now" but said it's hard not to think about "tomorrow."

"I swear, it is," Kincade said of not getting too eager about the prospects of 2015. "Looking at (Bo) as a senior, he’s hopefully going to have a great year and go to the NFL. But I don’t want to look forward to next year. I have a job to do this year. Patience is the key and staying healthy."

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