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Friday, October 31, 2014

Freeze to open QB competition back up

VIDEO BLOG: Ole Miss hasn’t exactly gone back to the drawing board, but head coach Hugh Freeze did make it pretty clear that just because Bo Wallace has been the man, doesn’t mean he will continue to be QB 1 if he continues to turn over the ball.

Against Alabama on Saturday, Wallace threw two interceptions while completing 15 of 26 passes for 123 yards. In a game where the Rebels (3-2 overall, 0-1 Southeastern Conference) were already fighting an uphill battle, they couldn’t exactly afford to hurt their own cause.

During Monday’s usual press conference, the first-year Rebel coach said there will be plenty of competition this week in order to determine who will start at quarterback for Ole Miss on Saturday when the Rebels host Texas A&M at 6 p.m. on ESPNU.

“We’re going to work hard this week to find out who prepares the best, feels the most confident with the game plan and can hopefully move our football team down the field,” Freeze said. “Hopefully we won’t put our defense in bad positions time and time again. Interceptions are part of the game. As a quarterback you have to have a short memory and forget about them. You have to move on. If it’s a reoccurring pattern on bad decisions or bad throws, then we as coaches have to explore other avenues. I hope that’s not the case.

“I want all of our quarterbacks to play and all of them to do well. Dan (Werner) and I are going to prepare them like that. We have to do a better job, maybe with figuring out what they don’t feel comfortable throwing. I don’t think that was the case the other night. We’ve got to find more consistent play out of that room.”

This year, Wallace has completed 70 of 112 for 840 yards and seven touchdowns. Wallace’s six interceptions are tied with Tennessee’s Tyler Bray for second-most in the SEC behind Auburn’s Kiehl Frazier‘s seven picks.

JOHNNY ON THE SPOT: Coming to Oxford this weekend will be SEC newcomer Texas A&M, led by the recently anointed SEC Offensive Player of the Week (and TRI-Freshman of the Week) Johnny Manziel.

All the Aggie QB did to earn those accolades was set the SEC and Texas A&M record with 557 total yards in Texas A&M’s 58-10 win over Arkansas last weekend. Manziel passed for 453 yards (29 of 38) with three touchdowns while also rushing for 104 yards and another touchdown. It’s probably worth noting that Manziel also threw to 12 different receivers against Arkansas. In four games, Manziel has attempted 124 passes without an interception.

“It is definitely his ability to extend the play,” said Freeze after being asked what was most impressive about Manziel. “He has a lot of things that are impressive. He has great speed and mobility. At the end of the day, the guy finds a way to extend play after play. Then it ends up being a dagger to you. He extends it and scores touchdowns. That’s the most concerning thing.”

This season, Manziel has completed 87 of 124 passes (70.2 percent) for 1,094 yards and 10 touchdowns.

DEFENSIVE VIEW: Due to some technical difficulties, the usual snippet of Freeze’s press conference is replaced by a portion of Monday’s interview with Ole Miss sophomore C.J. Johnson. The defensive end discusses Alabama and looks ahead to the Texas A&M game.

GETTING DEFENSIVE: Manziel won’t be the only SEC Player of the Week to jog onto Vaught-Hemingway Stadium on Saturday. Ole Miss freshman Denzel Nkemdiche was named the conference’s Co-Defensive Player of the Week alongside Georgia cornerback Sanders Commings. Nkemdiche recored 11 tackles, three tackles for loss, two forced fumbles and the Rebels’ lone sack against the Crimson Tide.

Freeze had this to say about sophomore safety Cody Prewitt, who racked up 13 total tackles against Alabama, and Nkemdiche: “Those two are two that I know have bought in. I know that they want to compete at a high level. They want to see this program change before they leave here. They show it in the way they play, prepare and study. I couldn’t be more pleased in their performance, with who they are and what they’re meaning to our program.”

For more from Monday’s press conference, pick up a copy of Tuesday’s Oxford EAGLE. (October 1, 2012)

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