OXFORD — Ole Miss exited the spring without naming a backup quarterback, and with coach Hugh Freeze indicating the decision may actually extend into the 2014 season.
That’s by design, because Freeze and co-offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Dan Werner want redshirt freshmen DeVante Kincade and Ryan Buchanan competing against each other for as long as possible.
“They’re competitors, so they’ll try to outdo one another,” Werner said.
That’s been the case since the two signed in February 2013: Buchanan an in-state kid that had offers from every SEC school, Kincade an Elite 11 quarterback from Dallas. One of them is going to be the starter in 2015, after Bo Wallace graduates, and both know only one can have that job.
“It’ll be real fun competing with him,” Kincade said. “We go back and forth, back and forth. We help each other out, pat each other on the back and tell each other our mistakes and things like that.”
Said Buchanan: “It’s coaches’ decision whether it’s close or not. I feel like it’s close. (Kincade) is a really good quarterback, so I just got to go out everyday and it’s on my mind: I got to play great everyday and do my best to impress the coaches. They’re going to decide that.”
They got 15 practices, including the Grove Bowl, this spring in which they, for the first time, really got to play football. Freeze even pulled the green no-contact jerseys off both midway through, in an effort to see how they would handle live snaps.
“I look forward to watching film between Ryan and DeVante,” Freeze said. “They both do different things. Ryan has some natural pocket presence that’s hard to teach. He’ll hang in there and knows where it’s supposed to be. You saw Kincade do a lot of things with his feet. He’s got a strong arm.”
Now comes the time, Werner said, where they have to work on their own and get better.
“The rule is I’m not allowed to sit in there with them, so they have to do it on their own,” Werner said. “I expect them, in basketball terms, to be a gym rat. You got to want it all day long. So you come over (to the Manning Center), you got to lift, you got to run, and then you got to come in and watch film and then you got to throw.”