One More Go
But what a way to – potentially – go out.
The No. 9-ranked Rebels will take on No. 6 TCU Dec. 31 in the Chik-fil-A Peach Bowl, one of six elite bowl games in rotation for the College Football Playoff. Should Ole Miss win, Wallace would become the winningest Rebel quarterback in modern history with 25 wins, and the first ever to start and win three bowl games.
“Everybody’s going to have a different opinion,” Wallace said of his legacy following practice on Monday. “It is what it is. It’s not for me to decide. I want to get this win and have 25 wins. It’s important for me.”
Wallace holds the Ole Miss record for total offensive yards and a 24-14 record in three seasons under center. He’s racked up 10,427 total yards heading into the postseason.
The Rebels are 9-3 on the year, including a 5-3 mark in Southeastern Conference games. Ole Miss wrapped the regular season with a 31-17 win over in-state rival Mississippi State in the annual Egg Bowl rivalry game. “It was the best win I had in my career,” Wallace said.
Taking down TCU would be a nice bow on the career of Wallace, who throughout his years at Ole Miss has faced unrelenting criticism, fair or not, despite being the most decorated quarterback not named Manning to don red and blue.
“It’s going to be fun,” Wallace said of the Peach Bowl. “Atlanta’s a great city. The bowl people were here today telling us what we were going to be able to do. They have a lot of good events set up for us, challenges against (TCU) that’s going to be fun. We’re all excited to go.
“I’m looking forward to practice and all that, just because I know I’m not going to get to do it much longer. I’m taking advantage of every day. We’re excited about it. We’re excited to go to Atlanta. It’s a New Year’s six bowl and a chance to get 10 wins and elevate this program to another level.”
Wallace arrived at Ole Miss in January of 2012. The Rebels were fresh off a 2-10 season and in the midst of a 15-game league losing streak.
Now, they’re in the Peach Bowl and relevant on the national stage. And Wallace is a primary reason why.
“Coming off what they were coming off of, I was just trying to come in and play and compete,” he said. “I came here because it was probably my best chance to play. For us to turn it around is special.”
Wallace said once his final game is over, it’s off to train for the next level, wherever that may be. He’s already graduated. “I’m going to go train and give it a shot.”
He’ll leave to a quarterback competition consisting of returning redshirt sophomores Ryan Buchanan and DeVante Kincade, as well as junior college transfer Chad Kelly.
“When Ryan’s confident and going through his reads, he’s really smart with the football,” Wallace said. “DeVante’s a great athlete, great player, great arm. And I’ve watched Chad play. He’s going to be a good player, too.”
Buchanan and Kincade played only sparingly this season, combining for 27 pass completions in 39 attempts for 191 yards, one touchdown and one interception.
Kelly recently led No. 1 East Mississippi Community College to an NJCAA national championship over No. 2 Iowa Western. He completed 40 of 53 passes for 434 yards and five touchdowns in the game, bringing his final season stats to 3,906 passing yards and 47 touchdowns. He rushed for 446 yards and four touchdowns on the ground.
“He’s a talented kid. Watching him at East, he really ran that offense well,” Wallace said of Kelly. “Threw a lot of touchdowns, not a lot of picks. He should definitely come in and compete.”
Chuck's Random Notes:
* OLB Serderius Bryant missed Saturday and Sunday's practice due to attending a funeral. He was back at practice Monday afternoon. .. . WR Dayall Harris, who missed practice due to a death in his family, has not returned to practice yet, but being a redshirt, he will not play in the Peach Bowl anyway.
* As we reported Saturday, LG Aaron Morris tore his ACL prior to the Egg Bowl, but played anyway. He will not play in the Peach Bowl and will have surgery on his knee tomorrow. Morris injured the same ACL that was torn early in the 2013 season, but this one is a partial tear. The prognosis is for him to be back for August practice, knock on wood, fingers crossed.
* Also a rehash, in Morris' absence, Justin Bell will move from right guard to left guard and freshman Rod Taylor will start at right guard. Freeze said today that Taylor "is improving weekly" and he has no reservation about Taylor being ready to rumble in the Peach Bowl.
* QB Bo Wallace played in the Egg Bowl with a bum ankle. From the looks of practice, it's still bothering him a little bit, but he's definitely on the mend. His ankle is taped and he's favoring it some, but nothing like the Egg Bowl. All systems appear to be on go for the Peach Bowl.
* As you know, LB Coach and Special Teams Coordinator Tom Allen has accepted a job as the defensive coordinator at South Florida in the American Conference. Tom was at practice today and will be at the Rebel practice tomorrow, but that will be his last day at Ole Miss. Freeze said he will miss Allen, who has been with him since his Lambuth days, but he's happy for Allen's opportunity. No word yet on who may replace Tom - Freeze said it will be after the new year before he makes a final decision.
* In Monday's practice, the "threes" had a full-contact period that produced a lot of hard hitting action. Standouts? Redshirt frosh DE Victor Evans, who had two QB sacks; RS frosh DT Breeland Speaks, who had two tackles behind the line of scrimmage; redshirt RB Akeem Judd, who had a couple of impressive power runs; freshman MLB DeMarquis Gates, who broke up two passes in coverage; and the Moore twins, who were very active at Husky and SS. . . Demore'ea Stringfellow also showed some flash at wideout when the QB had time to throw, which was rare.
* Backup QBs Devante Kincade and Ryan Buchanan both got quality reps with the first and second teams and both had their moments to shine. Both seemed under control and made good throws for completions. When Chad Kelly gets here, there is going to be a dogfight in spring for Bo Wallace's vacated position. Can't wait.
* CB Senquez Golson may be the story of the year on the Rebel team. His change under Freeze and staff has been fun to watch. In three years, he's gone from a follower to a leader, doing just enough to get by to a hard worker, a boy to a man, and a good player to a First-Team All-American. Great story to watch unfold and what makes college athletics fun to follow and cover.
* Freshman CB Kendarius Webster continues to impress as the possible replacement for Golson. Monday, he picked off a long pass intended for Cody Core, running step for step with the speedy receiver, maintaining perfect positioning and turning at the last instant to catch the ball. He's going to be special.
* OLB Tayler Polk has a splint on his left hand and is not practicing now, but he is expected to play on special teams in the Peach Bowl.
* Tempo, tempo, tempo has been the calling card in practices this week. The pace Monday was frantic, with no more than 15-18 seconds between snaps. If TCU plays this fast in the Peach Bowl, and the Rebs opt to as well, the action will be non-stop for 60 minutes.
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