Quarterbacks have mixed bag in scrimmage

Three Rebel signal-callers remain in the hunt for the starting spot for Sept. 5 against Memphis. Saturday's scrimmage showed the coaches there's still some practice time to go through and more evaluations to be made before a starter totally emerges.

The first scrimmage of August camp didn't leave Coach Ed Orgeron feeling too good about his quarterbacks, and he didn't hesitate to say so.

The first-year head coach of the Ole Miss Rebels didn't feel Micheal Spurlock, Ethan Flatt, or Robert Lane did enough positive things to merit much praise.

"I was very disappointed," Orgeron said. "It wasn't what we've been seeing in practice every day."

The fifth-year senior Spurlock most likely remained out in front of what has been, like last season, a three-man race. His passing numbers weren't anything to write home about – 13-of-30 for 159 yards. One of them, a long, beautiful throw of some 45 yards deep down the middle of the field to Mario Hill, brought some of the biggest oooos and ahhhs from the crowd of several hundred in attendance.

But it was the running and moves of Spurlock that were even more noticeable. The starter in the Rebels' first two games last fall ended the scrimmage with 58 yards rushing on nine carries, three of them for touchdowns.

Flatt, who started the final nine games last season, wasn't considered as much in the picture for the starting role this year either in spring or so far in preseason. But in the last few practices the fourth-year junior appeared to make a move. Saturday he was 7-of-9 with a long of 19 yards and led the twos on a couple of nice drives with a fumble ending at least one of them.

The third-year sophomore Lane was 8-of-11 with one touchdown toss of 20 yards to Mike Espy.

Spurlock may have been most impressive running the two-minute drill and goalline situations at the end of the scrimmage.

Spurlock was sacked once on the day, Lane twice, and Flatt three times.

"The first day of 25-second clock and signaled plays, not making excuses for them, but there was a mix of good things and bad things," said offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone. "I don't want to say too much until we really look at the film. We'll just wait and see after we take a look."

Mazzone said Spurlock did look good at the end with the two-minute and goalline drills.

"Down there near the goalline, if they've got ‘em all covered, you'd better watch out for that guy," he said. "Obviously the way he can move and get things done down there is obviously a weapon for us. Cover everybody and then he'll run it in."

Mazzone said Flatt had done some good things lately.

"Ethan's very smart and he understands what we're doing," Mazzone said. "I think he's going to be ready when he gets his chance. We're looking at both him and Robert (after Spurlock at this point). I've been happy with the way Ethan's been playing. He can't drop the football like he did a couple of times today."

Flatt said he knew the offense, including himself, could have been better Saturday.

"We could have been a lot sharper than we were," he said. "At the same time we did a good job of fighting through fatigue and the heat and coming together as a team. We got a lot done, but obviously we're not there yet. But it was good to be out there in situations like today, managing the play clock and getting everything lined up."

Lane basically agreed with Flatt's assessment of all things offense on this day.

"Offensively we could have been better," he said. "But it was the first scrimmage of the summer, and we've got a couple more weeks to go. We'll go in and watch film and evaluate it and see where we can get better.

"Individually I think I had a pretty good day," Lane continued. "I just went out and tried to compete. I thought I did some good things and know there are some things I did I have to get better at."

Lane said the offense is still in the learning stages for the Rebels.

"We had four weeks in the spring with it and now we've gone a week and half in August. We're growing in it and expect to get better every day and every week. We'll continue to get more comfortable in it as time goes by."

Spurlock said he was pleased the Rebels pushed through in the long, hot scrimmage.

"The heat was a factor out there today, and a lot of people got tired," Spurlock said of the team's production on the day. "But we fought through it all together. Overall it was allright. We'll watch the film and correct mistakes and go out Monday and get after it again."

Spurlock said he is trying to be the leader he knows the team needs.

"I'm a fifth-year senior, so everyday I go out I try to remember that and be a leader. I try to go out every day and whatever mistakes I made the day before try not to make them again. Just go out and learn and push forward."

Spurlock said he feels good about where he is, but he knows there's work to be done between now and the opener in Memphis on Sept. 5.

"I'm waiting for Coach O to make that decision," he said in response to a question of whether he thinks he is the clear-cut starter at this point. "We just go out every day and practice hard and try to get this team better. I'm just playing every day like it's my last. With the new coaching staff and offensive coordinator, I just go out each day and try to move forward and show I am that guy."

OM Spirit Top Stories