We at the Cup figured that with the addition of Bo Wallace to this year’s signing class, it’d be timely to explore the upcoming quarterback competition that should begin in earnest this spring.
Wallace, alongside incoming freshman C.J. Beathard, will give us at least six quarterbacks in the rotation. However, if the Rebels receive a commitment from their last quarterback left on the board-the highly touted Jeremy Liggins out of Lafayette-things could shape up differently with seven guys in the mix.
Below the jump, I’ll go over what we think are the most likely scenarios.
One thing that I like about Freeze is his ability to recognize that there’s not much outstanding talent at the QB position. I think that’s one of the reasons that, despite having three scholarship players and a greyshirt in Maikhail Miller, Freeze still made it a point to honor CJ Beathard’s s offer, pursue a highly touted JuCo gunslinger and continue pursuing J-Lig. I think that with no clear-cut starter, he wants the most options possible.
So, with Jeremy Liggins being the lone wildcard at this point, I’ll put forth two scenarios dependent on whether or not J-Lig chooses to stay in Oxford. In either scenario, I’d expect Beathard to redshirt.
If Liggins does not commit to Ole Miss:
Unless the evaluations were completely off base, I expect Bo Wallace to assume to starting role by the first week of spring ball. Even if the coaches won’t come out and say it, there’s a reason they went after this guy.
A couple of things stand out about Wallace. He’s got good height, an accurate arm and decent mobility. He’s not going to take off out of the pocket, but he possesses enough speed to run a good read-option or scramble out of the pocket and make plays. With Freeze’s offensive system, he’d already be an appealing prospect. Considering that Freeze coached him at ASU, the familiarity with the system would also favor Wallace.
What I’m most excited about is Wallace’s potential. I haven’t been too wooly about JuCo quarterbacks in the past, for obvious reasons. However, Wallace seems to possess a great deal of upside. He ran an option-oriented offense in high school, rushing and passing for over 1,000 yards. After signing with ASU, Wallace redshirted and quickly discovered that Ryan Aplin was a badass QB (for the Sun Belt).
In his first year of action at EMCC, Wallace threw for over 4,000 yards. Regardless of the level of competition, one does not simply throw for 4,000 yards in a single season.The only number that worries me is the interception number: 14. Those worries are assuaged though when you look at how many passes he threw this year: 502, with a 66% completion rate.
Though he’ll have to battle against Barry Brunetti and Randall Mackey, I think the position will be Wallace’s to lose. I think Mackey’s disciplinary issues and general lack of on-the-field production, on top of the fact that he has just one year of eligibility, brings his chances down.
Though I think Brunetti got the short end of the stick from Nutt, I just don’t know if he possesses the physical capacity to be an SEC quarterback. He can run, but not quite enough to compensate for his erratic throws. Also, he now only has two years of eligibility because, after watching three QBs for six months, Houston Nutt still couldn’t make up his fucking mind. Thus, Brunetti will be a junior this season. Hey, I’m sure those 14 minutes as a starter against BYU were worth it though, right?
As for Zack Stoudt…well, I think Maikhail Miller probably has a better chance to play than Stoudt. The guy has cannon for an arm, but the pocket awareness and mobility of a statue. One does not simply throw five picks against Vanderbilt and continue playing college football.
I still think Miller will end up moving to tight-end or something along those lines. Though Freeze is honoring his scholarship offer, which had previously been retracted, Miller is an unlikely candidate. Also, he apparently suffers from the same affliction ailing Couscous, so I don't think that will help his case.
If Jeremy Liggins does commit to Ole Miss:
This is where things get tricky. Liggins is a humongous quarterback, with good wheels and a strong arm. He doesn’t always deliver the most beautiful of throws, but he’s shown good touch on the deep-ball, good leadership qualities and HOLY SHIT HE’S 270 lbs.
Despite the intangibles he comes with, 4A ball in Mississippi is a world away from SEC football. One does not simply walk into the SEC and perform well.
In this case, I expect a mixed bag. I’d think Wallace still has the lead and would get a majority of the snaps. If I’m Freeze though, the thought of having a 270 pound QB who can actual throw and run would have me foaming at the mouth, particularly in third and short situations. I could see Liggins just having an offensive package centered around him for those types of situations.
With Liggins on tap, I’d also expect Brunetti and Mackey to drop to 3rd and 4th on the depth chart. Freeze is looking to bring in his own guys who have multiple years to learn the system.
As a caveat, I write this from the perspective that Wallace was signed under the assumption that he’d have the lead in the QB race. If Mackey or Brunetti come out firing on all cylinders in spring ball, there will obviously be a reevaluation of this.
For now though, it looks as if Bo Wallace will be the next quarterback for Ole Miss.