After losing senior all-SEC quarterback Chad Kelly for the year in a win over Georgia Southern, Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze now turns his attention to Texas A&M and his team’s prospects of bowl eligibility. During Freeze’s weekly Monday press conference, Hugh said he “would rule nothing out” and “all options are on the table” with regards to who the Rebels’ signal caller will be.
This is a frustrating non-answer to a question that has had Ole Miss fans worried since Saturday: where does this team go from here? Do they stick with backup Jason Pellerin, who has seen a fair number of snaps this season so far, or do they pull the redshirt off of blue chip freshman quarterback Shea Patterson?
After Kelly went down in the third quarter, Pellerin entered and closed out the game for Ole Miss, going 1-for-5 passing for 19 yards and one interception and running the ball four times for 29 yards. Despite the struggles, Freeze said after game that Pellerin would take first-team snaps if Kelly couldn’t practice and that he hoped to preserve Patterson’s redshirt.
“You hope you recruited some people behind your starter, and obviously we’ve got one here (Patterson) that we think’s going to be really good also,” Freeze said. “But there’s three games left in the season, and you certainly don’t want to pull that redshirt.”
Who does Hugh turn to?
Pellerin has not been very good in mop up duty. So far this season, he is an atrocious 5-for-13 for 53 yards, “good” for a 38 percent completion rate, two touchdowns and three interceptions. Pellerin’s strength lies in the running department. He has scooted for 96 yards on 25 attempts and scored three times. Despite the poor stats throwing the ball, Pellerin has the big arm to stretch the field and the athleticism to extend plays and escape the pocket when it breaks down. At this point, you know what you got with him since he has been in the system for two years and has seen some live action.
As for Patterson, the true freshman obviously brings five-star tools to the table and a better than average knowledge of the offense since he was an early enrollee. As far as burning his redshirt goes, Freeze could be looking for something to motivate the team in a time of need heading into the final three games of the year. In my opinion, you play Shea now. There’s no doubt he is the future and you can use it as a tool in recruiting in a cycle that you are struggling mightily due to the NCAA cloud hanging over your program. If he is as good as advertised, he is not going to stay for five years anyways.