Ole Miss Spring Game: Biggest Storylines to Follow from Grove Bowl
The 2012-13 SEC tournament champions concluded their spring training in style in the annual Grove Bowl, with several strong performances to be found throughout the team on the night.
Having starred last year in the SEC, the Ole Miss Rebels will be looking to continue their success again this season following a very strong recruitment period.
And if the performances from their pre-existing players on Saturday night are anything to go by, then Rebels fans should expect another strong year from the program.
There was plenty to like from the spring game this year and plenty of big questions that remained unanswered—storylines that will no doubt flow on into the weeks to come. Let's take a look at those top storylines following the Rebels spring game this weekend.
Still No Answers at Running Back
With Randall Mackey no longer an option, one of the biggest questions heading into the spring game this year was as to the Rebels depth chart at running back.
Jeff Scott will likely be the starter come opening day, but other than that, it's seemingly up in the air at the moment. I'Tavius Mathers, Mark Dodson and Jaylen Walden all had their moments (both good and bad) in the spring game, but they didn't offer any real clarity as to who will be coming in for Scott in 2013.
Mathers looked very strong on the ground—picking up where he left off last season—and is perhaps an early call for the backup running back. But even then, there's no guarantees as to whether Mathers, Walden or Dodson will be the backup.
The trio will be more than capable of fulfilling the workload that Mackey got through last year with the help of Scott. There's just no clarity as of yet to determine in what order they'll be getting that done.
Will Bo Wallace Be Healthy in Time? And If Not, Who Plays?
Star quarterback Bo Wallace did not participate in the spring game this year—still recovering from the offseason surgery that he had on his shoulder.
And boy, did the Rebels miss his presence!
Without Wallace running its offense, Ole Miss looked lackluster at times trying to move the ball downfield and didn't have the same energy and connection that it had last year. Moreover, the quarterbacks in contention to be Wallace's backup this year struggled with the read-option and didn't do themselves any favor in trying to land a backup gig in 2013.
Who will be Bo Wallace's backup in 2013?
Bleacher Report's Seph Anderson concluded after the game that "the bottom line is Hugh Freeze and Ole Miss have no true backup to Wallace at the end of spring," and he couldn't be more correct.
Barry Brunetti and Maikhail Miller appear to be the front-runners for the backup job, but neither emerged from the Grove Bowl with a truly impressive performance to their name. Instead, they showed just how valuable Wallace truly is to their offense and how desperately they need him to return for the start of the season if they're going to be a competitive force in 2013.
How Will the Rebels Recover From Injuries?
One of every coach's biggest nightmares in the spring is how to deal with injuries and keeping players healthy, and for Ole Miss, it's been a battle it's lost time and time again this spring.
In addition to having guys like Wallace and Christian Morgan out with long-term injuries, the Rebels were forced to alter the format of their spring game this year in order to minimize contact and keep their players healthy for the start of the regular season.
Over a dozen players, including C.J. Johnson, Darone Bailey, Isaac Gross, Vince Sanders and Charles Sawyer, were all kept out of this game due to injury concerns, and whilst the majority of them will be right for their August 29 kickoff against Vanderbilt, Rebels coaches will be desperate to ensure that their key players are all healthy and ready for that game.
Beating the injury curse was key to the Rebels' success last season, and if spring training is anything to go by, it will have a big impact on their 2013 season also.
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