Grid observations, Part VI

In the final part of our early spring football observations, based on five days of practice, we will look at the Rebel quarterbacks and special teams performers. Read about it inside.

Consider this.

During spring training, the Rebels have three quarterbacks who weren't even on campus until January. The fourth - RS freshman Billy Tapp - split time last year at tight end and quarterback on the scout team offense.

To complicate matters worse, they are all learning a new offense and working with wide receivers, who between the whole bunch have virtually no experience.

Sound like a "dire" situation? Not according to new Offensive Coordinator Dan Werner.

"It is what it is," he said recently. "I'm not going into this deal with negative thoughts about our quarterbacks. In college football, you have to deal with inexperience and players learning new things. That's why it is called spring training."

Currently, JUCO transfers Seth Adams and Bruce Hall, Tapp and transfer Conner Wise, who came to Ole Miss after a couple of years at Army, are splitting snaps and trying to make a positive impression on the coaches.

"Right now, Seth seems to have the quickest grasp of the offense, but all four have had their moments where they have done some good things," Werner stated.

In last week's scrimmage, the numbers the QBs put up were "OK," but it was apparent all four are in the infancy of their development within the Reb offense.

All four seem to have adequate arms for most of the throws required of them, but none have eye-popping arm strength. Hall is the most athletic, but Adams showed some ability to avoid a rush and get out of trouble as well.

There's really not much more to say, based on our observations. QB is definitely a work in progress. It's been made clear they are battling for the number two slot in the fall after JUCO signee Brent Schaeffer arrives in the summer, but in this day and age of college football, an effective backup is more critical than most want to believe. A starting QB can be knocked out in a heartbeat and then the team's fate is turned over to number two.

Who will it be? We may not know that until mid-August.

Just about the same thing can be said for the placekickers. Who will it be? In the windy conditions last Saturday, none of the candidates looked very good, understandably, but that's a continuing, disturbing trend from last season.

Will Moseley, Matt Hinkle, Justin Sparks and Robert Bass are the main candidates. To this point, nobody has stood out.

Moseley will definitely be the kickoff guy and will be one of the best in the league based on last year's results. On a side note, Will is a 4.0 student and has been chosen for the Taylor Medal, a prestigious academic award. He was also named the player with the best attitude in the offseason by S&C Coach Aaron Ausmus.

Sophomore Rob Park is ably handling the important holding chores and it seems backup FB Seth Michaelson has the inside track on being the deep snapper. So far, so good on those two.

Park is also the odds-on favorite to capture the punting job he held most of last year. He has progressively gotten better in that duty and will continue to do so. He had some shaky moments in his debut season, but as he gained experience he got better as the season wound down.

In the return game, we believe there may be a great deal of excitement generated by freshman Marshay Green and others like Mico McSwain and Mike Wallace are also available and dangerous. The return game has a chance to be dynamic and explosive.

Overview: Quarterback and placekicking are as vital as any positions on the team. Both are iffy right now. Hopefully by the end of spring one of the QBs will separate himself from the pack and will emerge as a reliable backup and one of the placekicker candidates will take over that slot. To this point, neither has happened. If that does not take place in spring, look for frosh QB Michael Herrick and frosh PK Joshua Shene to be given hard looks at those two slots in August.

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