Obviously, the biggest story for Ole Miss football this spring and offseason revolves around the quarterback position. The Rebels are faced with replacing one of the most prolific passers in school history in Bo Wallace. Wallace holds eighth place in career passing yards among SEC quarterbacks all time. Like... all time. While he was divisive (and much more so than he deserved), it's tough to argue that Bo Wallace didn't generate a significant offensive output at times.
But he's gone now. There's no more dwelling over who was right about the Good Bo/Bad Bo arguments. No more comparing him to Sunshine from Remember the Titans (sorry, State fans who thought that was funny). Now, it's time to see what another quarterback can do after he earns the starting job for the Rebels.
We don't know who the next in line is yet, but we sure can speculate. Oh can we speculate.
Buchanan is a 6'3" 208 pound redshirt freshman (entering his redshirt sophomore season). Buchanan was highly recruited coming out of high school, earning offers from Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Florida, Mississippi State, UNC, Oklahoma State, and others. A relatively lightly regarded player early on, Buchanan is an example of a recruits who earns significant offers when he goes to camp at schools and eventually earns a fourth star. Alabama and Florida each offered him when he camped with them because they liked what they saw in person. It's tough to judge a recruit based on his production in a Mississippi private school, regardless of the level of competition.
In his only season of eligibility, Buchanan played significant snaps in three games as a redshirt freshman. Let's take a look at those games.
@Vanderbilt: 4/7 passing for 38 yards. 2 carries for 18 yards. Buchanan came in during mop up duty and moved the ball down the field a bit.
Presbyterian: 6/7 passing for 28 yards. 0 carries. Buchanan came in during mop up duty and had to be told to stop throwing.
@Arkansas: 1/6 passing for 5 yards and an interception. 1 carry for zero yards. Eesh. It didn't go so hot. Of course, neither did the rest of the team, as the Rebels lost 30 to 0.
I'm not going to judge him based on how those games went. It's well known that the coaches really like his grasp of the offense. He's a player who just needs to keep improving from a physical standpoint and decision making once the snap actually occurs.
Devante "Switchblade" Kincade is a "six foot" 200 pound quarterback from Dallas, Texas. Kincade was a known quantity in high school, earning a fourth star early in the process and progressing through the Elite 11 competition. Kincade was dominant in high school against a high level of competition. He earned offers from Arizona, Kansas State, Mississippi State, Nebraska, and Notre Dame, among others. The knock on Kincade has always been his size, though he has certainly gotten thicker during his time at Ole Miss. He's a smart player (as evidenced by his testing awards at the Elite 11), so I imagine his biggest need is also reps.
Kincade played somewhat more regularly as a freshman than Buchanan since he was given several opportunities to establish himself as a running threat. That didn't really happen for him, as he finished the season with just 95 yards on 28 carries.
Kincade earned significant snaps in just two games, throwing the ball six times against ULL and eight times against Presbyterian. In those two games combined, he was 12/14 with 90 yards and a touchdown. He also had ten carries for 49 yards.
Most of Kincade's time in games was spent handing the ball off or making very safe throws. It will be intriguing to see how he does when making throws that are a bit riskier but offer a higher opportunity for reward.
Chad Kelly, a Buffalo, New York native, comes to Ole Miss from Clemson by way of East Mississippi Community College in Scooba (the same school that sent the Rebels Randall Mackey and Bo Wallace). At East, Kelly threw for 3,906 yards with 47 touchdowns and only eight interceptions. East Mississippi went 12-0 in his only season at the helm, winning the national championship.
At Clemson, Kelly, the nephew of Bills great Jim Kelly, went 10/17 for 58 yards in just five games played as a freshman. He added 117 yards on the ground in just 16 carries. After being kicked off of Clemson's team for what appeared to be a pattern of bad behavior (though nothing illegal), he ended up in Scooba.
Kelly represents the biggest chance Ole Miss has for a big play threat at the quarterback position. He has a very strong arm and is a more than capable runner. The question is whether he can get his head on straight, particularly when things don't go perfectly. Will he be screaming at Dan Werner on the sidelines after he throws his first interception? There's just a tremendous amount unknown about Chad Kelly. Rebel fans, however, will know soon enough.
So What Does That Mean?
I dunno. If Hugh Freeze names a starter before August, know that the football team is in capable hands because one guy was obivously better than the others. If this competition drags into the season, it could be a bad sign. It won't be decided this spring, but the coaches are likely to come out of April with a better idea of the pecking order they want entering August's two-a-days.