No Leader ... Yet

Ole Miss is three weeks into spring football, but Rebel head coach Hugh Freeze said the three-man quarterback competition isn’t any closer to being settled.

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The Rebels held a two-hour practice inside the Manning Center Saturday morning, and Freeze divided the reps of Chad Kelly, Ryan Buchanan and Devante Kincade evenly.

“I actually thought all three did some good things,” he said. “I’m standing right behind them (in practice), and they went through the right progressions most of the time. I thought we missed a few reads in the run game, but that happens. Our defense gives a lot of looks and it can be a bit confusing. I thought they all three had solid days. Again, that’s without watching film.”

“I’m pleased with them. They’re battling,” co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Dan Werner said. “All three of them have done some really good things. Obviously we’ve had some mistakes that happen throughout. Today, as far as I can tell, we had no turnovers, which is No. 1 on our list. I didn’t see anything that really caused a negative play, which is No. 2 on our list, and we went really fast.”

Buchanan and Kincade are three years into their Ole Miss careers and the Rebels' offensive system. Meanwhile, JUCO transfer Kelly, whose arm strength earned praise from Freeze, is new to the fold.

If nothing else, Kelly was responsible for the majority of the memorable plays of the day, including a roughly 50-yard completion to junior wide receiver Quincy Adeboyejo. He was 4 of 10 in the 11-on-11 portion of practice, while Buchanan was 12 of 18 and Kincade was 5 of 10.

“His arm strength is pretty dang good,” Freeze said. “He gets it out there, and he puts the right amount of air under it. We threw some good deep balls with him today. I know he hit Quincy with one. I thought he threw a couple of nice ones. He throws a good deep ball. So do the others, but Chad’s arm’s a little stronger than we’re used to.”

Kelly, a former four-star prospect, led East Mississippi Community College to an NJCAA national championship last season, finishing with 3,906 passing yards and 47 touchdowns. He rushed for 446 yards and four touchdowns.

“It’s amazing how quickly he picks these things up,” Werner said. “For me, I sit in our meeting room and I’ll go through plays we’ve had in for three years now. The others guys all know it just like that, obviously, because we’ve done it. It might be the first time he’s ever heard it. I have to catch myself. I’ll draw it up and, bam, he gets it and we move on. He’s been a real quick study.”

Ole Miss is attempting to replace three-year starter Bo Wallace, who graduated following last season’s 9-4 finish. Wallace is leaving behind six Ole Miss career records, including total offensive yards and 300-yard passing games.

But the good came with the bad. Wallace threw 41 interceptions in his career, with 14 coming in his senior campaign.

“We’re trying to make sure our guys understand,” Werner said, “if it’s not there, we’ve got enough big-play guys. We don’t need to make a play every play. If it’s not there throw it away, run it, whatever we’ve got to do. Somebody will make a play for you the next play.”

For Werner, it’s about finding the quarterback who can consistently do just that. But don’t expect him to be named anytime soon.

“There’s not going to be a leader,” Freeze said. “We’re going to go all the way to about the middle of fall camp.”

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