However, the two-man race between Barry Brunetti and Bo Wallace continued Saturday with nearly identical statistics. Brunetti, the junior veteran, was 12 of 24 for 76 yards with two interceptions in the two-hour scrimmage. Wallace, a sophomore in his first season with the program after junior college, was 10 of 23 for 134 yards, two interceptions, and one touchdown – a 28-yarder to a past quarterback, Randall Mackey.
“Today, I didn't feel real good about either one of them overall,” said first-year Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze. “They started off poorly and it took them some time to gain their composure. They did have some drops, but right now I feel we are a long way from where we need to be at that position."
They have three weeks to get there before opening kickoff. On Sept. 1 the Central Arkansas Bears play the Rebels in Oxford at 6 p.m.
Donte Moncrief led the receiving corps with four catches for 27 yards. Nick Parker had three catches for 19 yards. Ja-Mes Logan and Philander Moore joined Mackey with two receptions apiece, but it was Mackey with the lone touchdown reception on the day.
Burnetti’s two interceptions went to Senquez Golson and Quintavious Burdette. Wallace’s two picks came at the hands of Cody Prewitt and a last-play-of-the-scrimmage interception at the line of scrimmage by big defensive lineman Gilbert Pena.
The Rebel ground game continues to progress, if not at a rapid pace certainly with some progress in the first week. Jeff Scott, the veteran who will be counted on heavily this season, did not participate in the drills Saturday.
Devin Thomas, another veteran of ground-game wars, rushed for 26 yards on eight carries. But it was a couple of freshmen who turned the most heads.
Jaylen Walton carried the football nine times for 30 yards and a touchdown, while I’Tavius Mathers hauled it 10 times for 47 yards and a touchdown. Mathers also had one fumble.
Mackey got in on the rushing action, and should be a factor this season, with seven carries for 24 yards and a touchdown.
“Randall Mackey is making plays and we have more than one back now whereas in spring training we were real worried,” Freeze said. “Those young backs (Mathers and Walton) have really done a good job, and our quarterbacks had some nice runs. I am excited about Jaylen and I'Tavius. They showed they are going to be quality backs. They are still swimming mentally with some things, but I like where they are."
Defensively, it was Pena that had the biggest day statistically. In addition to his interception at the end, which set off a celebration among his fellow defenders, the senior had six tackles including a sack.
Brishen Matthews was in on a lot of the action with four tackles, including a sack and a fumble recovery. Joel Kight had six stops and was in on another tackle to assist on the play. Cameron Whigham had five tackles with a sack. Chief Brown had four tackles on the day, and Carlos Thompson had four solo tackles and assisted on another.