The Ole Miss Rebels will open their spring practice on Sunday looking to improve on a 2012 campaign that ended with a win in the BBVA Compass Bowl over the Pitt Panthers. They have plenty of areas to work on, but they will have to do so without some key pieces this spring, most notably starting quarterback Bo Wallace. With Wallace out, can senior Barry Brunetti earn a bigger role in the offense next fall?
Wallace will be sitting out the entire spring as he recovers from offseason clavicle surgery. That means Brunetti, who served as the primary backup last season, will take the majority of the snaps with the first team. Brunetti was used as a change-of-pace QB in 2012, though he was used as more of running option than a a threat to throw. He ran the ball 60 times for 277 yards with three touchdowns while throwing just 36 passes for 196 yards and a touchdown.
Getting put into the No. 1 spot this spring will give Brunetti another chance to show head coach Hugh Freeze what he can do. Freeze has considered using Brunetti in multiple positions when Wallace gets back next fall and an impressive showing this spring could earn the senior signal caller more opportunities to get on the field in a variety of ways.
It could also be an opportunity to earn the trust of Freeze as the backup quarterback. If Wallace were to have some kind of setback or get injured next season, Brunetti needs to prove to the coaching staff that he has the ability to be a passer in the Rebels’ offenses as well. Right now, there’s no guarantee that Freeze would be comfortable turning the offense over completely to Brunetti in case of an injury, but this spring is an opportunity to change that.
It’s been an interesting career for Brunetti in Oxford, but this spring is an opportunity to put his best foot forward heading into his final season. If he can put together a strong spring, expect to see Freeze find ways to get Brunetti onto the field more often in 2013.