"I thought all three quarterbacks looked good," head coach Houston Nutt said following the scrimmage.
"They all got a little different game. They all do things different, do things very well. Nathan (Stanley) had a good read tonight; threw the ball very well. Jeremiah (Masoli) can bide time when something breaks down, escape, and then throw a 40-yard bullet. It wasn't (Randall) Mackey's best night but, boy, he's been awfully accurate."
Nutt, now entering his third season, said Friday that snaps would be distributed evenly amongst his quarterbacks, considering a leading candidate to start Sept. 4 against Jacksonville State had yet to surface so far in preseason camp.
Redshirt sophomore Nathan Stanley opened the scrimmage with the first team. After an incompletion on his first attempt, he finished the day 3-of-5 for 45 yards. He gave way to Masoli on the second series, who then logged three of the offense's next four drives.
"I did alright," Stanley said. "I made some good decisions. Balls got a little slick on me, but that's no excuse. I was pretty proud of the way our offensive line did. They picked it up and we had pretty good protection all day."
The offense struggled mightily against a stiff Ole Miss defense for the better part of spring drills. But throughout the opening week of preseason camp, the offense has built some momentum. Stanley said the unit carried it over into Saturday.
"The defense kind of got us in the spring. They were pretty nasty in the spring," he said. "They kind of put it to us every day. That's something I really emphasized coming into two-a-days this year. I told them it was our turn. Let's turn it around, so we went out with the mindset to just not have the defense win. Let's take it to them every day.
"Today was really good for us."
Masoli struggled initially. He faced immediate pressure behind the second-team offensive line, and was forced to scramble routinely. But as he proved while leading Oregon to the Rose Bowl in his final season in Eugene, Masoli is best when improvising.
He connected with wide receiver Melvin Harris, who adjusted in the air, down the sideline for his first completion, and followed a series of plays later with a touch pass in between coverage to Ja-Mes Logan for the scrimmage's first offensive touchdown.
"We had a couple of good plays," Masoli said. "I think the whole offense was clicking here and there. But we just have to hit it on a more consistent basis. That's what we've got to work on."
For the game, Masoli completed 6 of his 12 attempts for 101 yards and a touchdown. Possibly his most impressive play came when he scrambled to his left and tossed a 36-yard strike to senior Markeith Summers along the sideline. Freshman running back Jeff Scott scored on a 5-yard run to cap the drive.
Nutt said following the scrimmage that Masoli's poise in the huddle and experience is obvious. Masoli said he can feel that poise, which comes from his trust in the offensive line.
"I definitely feel that poise," he said. "Our line has done a great job. It's just a thing of trust with the offensive line that you can just stand in and hang in there tough."
Randall Mackey, a junior college transfer, didn't see the field until the seventh offensive series. He was 5-of-11 for 38 yards. He mixed in touchdown throws to Vincent Sanders and Melvin Harris, while also tossing an interception.
"I had a pretty good day," Mackey said. "It went pretty good. Coach told us how we were going to rotate. I was just waiting for my time to come up. We were just out there having fun and playing football."
All three quarterbacks echoed a similar sentiment. Whomever is ultimately crowned the starter is up to the coaches, though Nutt said the competition is tight with a week of practices in the books.
"They're all doing very good," Nutt said. "You thought there would be a little bit more separation. But again, you got to look at things. Mackey just got here. Jeremiah just got here. Both of those guys had to pick up a book and start all over.
"It's amazing what Jeremiah has done in a small window of time. He's just done excellent. Then Nathan's been here the longest and he understands things much better. It's probably closer than I thought it'd be at this time."