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Wallace named starter for Saturday

Alex Edwards/The Daily Mississippian

 
After meeting with his coaching staff on Wednesday evening, Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze announced on Thursday that sophomore Bo Wallace will take the first snaps at quarterback in the Rebels' season opener against Central Arkansas on Saturday.
 
Wallace has been in constant competition with junior Barry Brunetti for the starting job, but the 6-foot-4, 204-pound Wallace edged out Brunetti in fall camp to get the nod.
 
"It's really to me co-(number ones)," Freeze said. "Bo will get the first series, and we'll see how he'll do. But Barry will get his chances too. To me, it's about who can move our football team and produce the first couple of weeks. You have to roll somebody out there to take the first snaps, and that's all the decision was.
 
"It was solely based on in the competitive situations we've been in, and (Wallace) graded out a little higher. That doesn't mean that he's going to play better than Barry on Saturday and vice versa. We'll judge them on what happens when the live bullets are flying the next couple of weeks."
 
Freeze has said that both Wallace and Brunetti will get about equal snaps on Saturday, but also said he will stick with the hot hand.
 
“I’ve kind of thought about it, and if I’m named the starter I plan on scoring every drive," Wallace said after Monday's press conference. "I think that’s really important going out there and scoring and not being taken out of the game. If you're scoring every drive, he’s probably not going to take you out. That’s my main focus right now."
 
It's always a worry that a quarterback could be looking over his shoulder when he's in the middle of a competition during the season, but Freeze isn't worried about that.
 
"I think it's a good thing if you're looking over your shoulder," Freeze said. "I think the competition is awesome. I think they better both know that they have to compete and have to produce."
 
While the competition is still alive, whoever performs better the next couple of weeks will ultimately be the go-to guy at quarterback. However, both Wallace and Brunetti don't let that get in the way of doing what's best for the team.
 
“You want to go out there and do your part," Brunetti said. "Do what you can do; know what your doing out there. Don't think of your competition. My competition is not Bo Saturday. My competition is Central Arkansas, and that's what I’m worried about. I’m not worried about what he does. I just want to go out there and do what I can do."
 
Wallace is in his first year at Ole Miss after putting up impressive numbers at East Mississippi Community College last season. Wallace led East Mississippi to the NJCAA national championship a year ago, throwing for a NJCAA record 4,604 passing yards, 4,810 total yards and 53 touchdown passes. 
 
The Pulaski, Tenn. native said on Monday that his mindset wouldn't change being the starter. He just wants to go out and prove he can get the job done.
 
"I think we’ll see Saturday who can run the offense better with live bullets," Wallace said. "I feel like that's a strength that I’ve had all throughout the camp. So just go out there and run the offense.”
 
Wallace admitted that the nerves will hit him when he runs out of the tunnel in front of the Ole Miss faithful in Vaught-Hemingway Stadium for the first game of his career on Saturday, but he said the butterflies will go away come game time.
 
“It’s just football," he said. "Once you get out there its the game you’ve been playing since sixth grade. So its just going out there and playing.”
 
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