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Mackey settling in as starting quarterback

Addison Dent/The Daily Mississippian


While Ole Miss fell yet again Saturday, this time in a 29-24 loss to Arkansas, the Rebels’ starting quarterback Randall Mackey played the best he ever has in a Rebel uniform.

The redshirt junior threw for 218 yards on 18 of 30 passing with two touchdowns while going for 30 rushing yards and a touchdown on 13 carries. He also, for the most part, avoided mistakes, taking just three sacks and throwing just one interception.

After the game, Ole Miss offensive coordinator David Lee said he was proud of how Mackey competed and showed composure under pressure.

“He played hard; that guy is really a good competitor,” Lee said. “He made some good decisions. 

“We’ve just got to get him when he is in trouble to throw the ball away. We’ve been working on it, but you learn that by playing. I thought he made some exceptional plays under duress.”

Mackey himself saw improvement in the Rebels’ play, but he said he was disappointed that the Rebels “let one get away,” after blowing a 17-0 second quarter lead against the Razorbacks.

“This is a tough one to swallow because we had it,” Mackey said. “Going from the first quarter to the third quarter and pretty much the whole game, we had it, and we let it slip away.”

Part of the Rebels’ success Saturday, Mackey said, was the fact that Ole Miss was able to exploit one-on-one matchups on the outside with freshman wide receivers Donte Moncrief and Nick Brassell. Head coach Houston Nutt agreed in Monday’s press conference.

“One of the things that teams try to always do is to get us into third down where they can come after us,” he said. “So you have some one-on-one matchups. That’s one of the best balls that (Mackey) throws.”

Brassell received 13 touches offensively on Saturday and accounted for 70 receiving yards and 17 rushing yards, in addition to his one tackle and one pass breakup on the defensive side. He commented after the game on how much more comfortable Mackey seemed as the starting quarterback.

“He’s becoming more comfortable,” Brassell said. “He’s got good confidence now. When he’s in there, he just knows what he’s going to do.”

Even though he has made four consecutive starts and has displayed an increased confidence according to teammates, Mackey doesn’t think he has quite established himself yet as a Southeastern Conference starting quarterback. 

In six games, including four starts, Mackey has completed 42 of 81 passes for 652 yards with four touchdowns and three interceptions. He’s also the team’s third leading rusher with 125 yards on 47 carries.

“I’m not going to just say that because we never knocked off a couple teams that we were supposed to beat, so I’m not going to just say I’m an SEC quarterback right now, but I’m still working on it,” Mackey said.

Regardless of what Mackey has said about his performance this season, Brassell said he is glad to have him at quarterback for the Rebels’ offense and looks forward to the rest of the season.

“That’s a great guy,” Brassell said. “He can do it all. He can throw, he can pull it down, run and make a guy miss. That’s a great athlete, and I’m glad we’ve got him here.”