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Ole Miss Grove Bowl 2015: Quarterbacks look lackluster, cornerbacks ball out in spring game

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Despite Hugh Freeze giving Ryan Buchanan the slight edge at the conclusion of spring practice, we're not much closer to knowing who the Rebels' starting signal caller will be in 2015.

Spruce Derden-USA TODAY Sports

The last time Chad Kelly played in a spring game, he got into a sideline shouting match with his Clemson coaches that eventually led to his dismissal from the program. So given that context, his 9-of-24, one touchdown, one interception outing in Ole Miss' Grove Bowl was a relative success, right?

None of the three quarterbacks vying to be Bo Wallace's replacement did much of anything on Saturday in a defense-dominated game that saw the Blue Team down the Red, 17-7. Ryan Buchananwho Freeze said after the game is the ever-so-slight leader after the conclusion of spring ball (WARNING: link may contain dangerously hot Kellenberger takes), completed just seven of his 19 attempts for 68 yards and a pick. DeVante Kincade went 7-of-18 for 92 yards.

In fairness, they didn't get much help. The injury-depleted O-line was porous and the receivers dropped eight passes, half of which were bungled by the usually-sure handed Evan Engram. If we count those drops as completions and make a couple of other minor adjustments (like nullifying Kelly's incompletion on a Hail Mary just before halftime), we get some slightly more reassuring numbers.

Ryan Buchanan Chad Kelly Devante Kincade
comp-att 11-19 11-23 9-18

Swaggy C was the only one to throw a touchdown, connecting with a wide-open Taz Zettergren ( ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ ) for a 43-yard score on his first series behind center.

The snaps were relatively evenly distributed, with Kelly working with the Blue Team, Buchanan with the Red Team and Kincade alternating between the two.

One interesting note here is that while Kelly and Buchanan were wearing green no-contact jerseys, Kincade was allowed to take hits. Some folks seem to think that suggests that Kincade is out of the race, but it's probably just because his game is so reliant on running that taking away the contact would prevent Freeze from getting an honest look at him. He looked impressive on the ground, rushing 10 times for 50 yards.

We'll have an in-depth breakdown of the quarterbacks next week, so I'll move on to my miscellaneous observations.

  • Damore'ea Stringfellow had a good game (three grabs for 98 yards and a touchdown, plus a couple more catches that were blown dead), but really needs to work on his route running, particularly making clean drives out of breaks. Watch this half-assed route that led to a Kelly interception on the final play:
  • I thought C.J. Johnson played pretty well at middle linebacker. He needs to get better at moving off blocks in the interior, but I was impressed with his play diagnosis and lateral quickness, particularly in pass defense.
  • Tee Shepard, Tony Bridges and Kendarius Webster are gonna be beastly at corner. They were all over the place, really showing off their size and length. They combined for five pass break ups and a pick.
  • The coaching staff clearly wanted to keep this thing fun for the players, and as such we saw ALL OF THE TRICK PLAYS. Here's Jaylon Walton to Stringfellow for a 66-yard score:

    Hopefully we've gotten all of this out of our system, because I swear to God, Hugh, if I see one more Treadwell pass...
  • I didn't keep too close of an eye on Jeremy Liggins, but I know he got beat bad around the edge a couple times by Marquis Haynes. In fairness, Haynes beats a lot of offensive tackles around the edge, and most of them aren't just a few months into a transition from tight end.
  • Here's the link to complete game stats.