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Quarterback race reopened, Nkemdiche honored

When Ole Miss head football coach Hugh Freeze took the podium in his weekly press conference on Monday afternoon, he said the quarterback race is back open and a starter will be named later in the week.
Austin McAfee/The Daily Mississippian

 
Turnovers have been an issue for most of the season for Ole Miss, and sophomore quarterback Bo Wallace’s two interceptions Saturday mean that the Rebels will have “more competition this week” at the position, according to Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze.
 
“We’re going to work hard this week to find out who prepares the best, who feels the most confident with the game plan, and who can go out and hopefully take our football team and move us down the field, or least don’t put our defense in bad positions time and time again,” Freeze said. “We’ve got to find more consistent play out of that (quarterback) room. Wallace was 15-of-26 for 123 yards with those two interceptions against Alabama, while junior Barry Brunetti was 4-of-6 for 15 yards and senior Randall Mackey was 0-of-1 with an interception.
 
Texas A&M’s offense presents a ‘totally different challenge’
 
On Saturday, the Ole Miss defense had a successful night against the Alabama offense, holding the Crimson Tide to 305 total offensive yards and just 125 rushing yards.
 
As the Rebels head back home to play Texas A&M on Saturday night, the Aggies’ spread attack is a “totally different challenge” for the Ole Miss defense, according to Freeze.
 
“It’s a whole different beast this week,” Freeze said. “They’re going to try to put you on an island and expose that they are better athletes than you, and they’ve had great success in doing that. It’s two totally different animals and two totally different systems. It has a totally different challenge that, for us, is very concerning.”
 
Freeze said the Rebels could make their offense “look exactly” like Texas A&M’s, but that the difference in personnel forces the two offense to be different, although they are similar overall.
 
“We probably do a little more stuff than (Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin) does, because I feel like we have to,” Freeze said. “If you get athletes that you have confidence that can win a lot of one-on-ones and a quarterback like he’s got, you really don’t have to do a lot more than they do.”
 
That quarterback is redshirt freshman Johnny Manziel, who was named Southeastern Conference Offensive Player of the Week on Monday after accumulating 557 total yards of offense and four total touchdowns in a 58-10 blowout win against Arkansas.
 
On the season, Manziel is 87- of-124 passing for 1,094 yards and 10 touchdowns without an interception. He’s also a threat on the ground, as he leads the team with 366 rushing yards and six touchdowns on the ground.
 
His ability to extend the play productively is what impressed Freeze the most about the freshman quarterback.
 
“I mean he’s got a lot of things that are impressive,” Freeze said. “He’s got great speed and mobility and all those things, but at the end of the day, the guy finds a way to extend play after play after play, and then it ends up being a dagger to you. It’s not just he extends it and throws it away or he extends it and makes a bad decision, he extends it and scores touchdowns.
 
“That’s the most concerning thing.”
 
Nkemdiche earns weekly award
 
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – He’s not the biggest defensive player in the SEC, but that doesn’t stop him from making big plays against the nation’s best.
 
After a stellar performance against top-ranked Alabama on Saturday, Ole Miss redshirtfreshman linebacker Denzel Nkemdiche was named SEC Co-Defensive Player of the Week by the league office Monday.
 
He shared the honor with Georgia defensive back Sanders Commings. Nkemdiche, all 5-foot-11 and  203 pounds of him, racked up a career-high 11 tackles against the Crimson Tide. Three of those tackles were for a loss, including a quarterback sack that set the Tide back 10 yards. He also forced two Alabama fumbles.
 
Homecoming game time set
 
Kickoff for Ole Miss’ Oct. 13 homecoming game against the Auburn Tigers has been set for 11:21 a.m. CT, the SEC announced Monday.
 
The game will be televised by the SEC Network.
 
Ole Miss Sports Information contributed to this report.
 
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