OXFORD, MS (WLOX) - Three quarterbacks have been vying for the No. 1 quarterback job at Ole Miss. On Monday Rebels head coach Hugh Freeze said Chad Kelly will get the first opportunity with the starting unit when Ole Miss battles Tennessee-Martin on Saturday. Last week he said he knew who would most likely receive the starting assignment, but wouldn't say who that quarterback was. That changed when Freeze met with the media on Monday or did it?
"I felt pretty good this time last week, that I was in the right place, "stated Freeze. "All three competed extremely well last week. Two of the three had their best week. The one that I had the gut feeling about didn't have as great of a week. Unless something changes this week I am not ready to name a starter. I know who is going to take the first snap, but I don't know who the starter for the season is going to be. That competition is still ongoing. This week could change my mind. Today in practice Chad Kelly is going to take the first snap with the ones. I anticipate that will carry on throughout the week leading up to Saturday. Unless something just totally changes my mindset I expect all three to play. I don't want to be quoted today that it is locked in stone. It is a very close competition. I like all three. All three of them have different qualities that they bring. This decision is basically based upon the charts we look at every day. These charts track every single rep that these quarterbacks have had. If you look at all of the things involved, Chad Kelly has a slight edge on the other two."
Freeze said at some point he will name a starting quarterback but he'll give Ryan Buchanan and DeVante Kincade a chance to get game experience over the next two games.
"Certainly at some point you have to name a starting quarterback for a given game, "stated Freeze. "That doesn't mean that he has to start the next game. But, once a guy gets into a rhythm and he does that two or three times I guess everyone is going to say he is our starter until he proves otherwise. I do expect to name someone, I think in a way you have to."
Look for game breaking receiver Laquon Treadwell to get his share of playing time on Saturday. He's made great progress after being lost for the season late in the Auburn game last year.
"When a kid goes down with an injury it is heartbreaking. Then to see him go through the recovery process and then battle back, it is quite rewarding, "said Freeze. "We haven't tackled him to the ground yet. So, in a strange kind of way, I look forward to seeing him get tackled. Maybe he won't. But, I look forward to us throwing it to him for the first time, taking a hit, going to the ground and then bouncing back up and lining up for the next play. I think that will bring a weird kind of smile to my face. I'll know that he's back."
Freeze wants to have a consistent rushing attack and if the Rebels can establish the run, that will give them a better chance at posting victories.
Freeze said, "I think Saturday will be the first real test. It is very difficult to judge where you are when you go against each other for three weeks. You know, our defense knows us really well, and our offense knows us real well. I think our defense is very talented and we have had very few negative runs, which I like. So again, I am cautiously optimistic. This will be a test. The things that UT Martin is able to do can cause you some problems. We kind of dealt with it last year in game one against Boise State. They are very similar teams. There is a lot of movement. It is hard to simulate that movement as fast as it would be on game day. We are preparing for it. Hopefully my thoughts about our run game will be pleasant after the game. It is just really hard to tell where you are, but we will see very soon."
Defensively the Rebels are rock solid and with the type of players fighting in the trenches and the talent in the defensive backfield, Ole Miss has a shot at claiming the SEC West Division title.