Hugh Freeze: ‘There are no options that are off the table’ at quarterback

Published 3:06 pm Monday, November 7, 2016

As far as what’s next for Ole Miss at quarterback, Hugh Freeze said everything is in play.

That includes the redshirt possibly coming off of five-star freshman Shea Patterson.

Ole Miss’ head coach was peppered with questions at his weekly press conference Monday about what he’ll do at the position now that a knee injury has ended Chad Kelly’s collegiate career. Redshirt freshman Jason Pellerin finished Saturday’s 37-27 win over Georgia Southern while Freeze has reiterated all season that the plan is to redshirt Patterson.

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Freeze on Monday again harped on how difficult it would be for him to play Patterson with three games left in a season where the Rebels (4-5, 1-4 Southeastern Conference) are out of title contention in the SEC West. He rattled off other options that he may look into this week to help at a position that currently has walk-on Drew Davis as the backup.

Those include wide receiver Markell Pack, tight end Evan Engram and former Lafayette High quarterback-turned-offensive lineman Jeremy Liggins.

“There are no options that are off the table, but today I’m trying to figure out a way to see if others can do the job first,” Freeze said.

If not, Patterson could be in play.

“That’s not something I want to rush to make a decision on,” Freeze said. “It certainly would be difficult to do that, but I wouldn’t quite totally rule it out just yet. I really want to take my time and think through it for sure looking at all the options.”

Freeze said most of the first-team reps in practice this week will go to the 6-foot-4, 230-pound Pellerin, who’s run for 96 yards and three scores this season while attempting just 13 passes. The offense didn’t reach the end zone with Pellerin in the game against Georgia Southern as he went 1 of 5 passing with an interception, though one of his incompletions was a would-be touchdown that went through Engram’s hands.

“I thought Jason played well last week,” Freeze said. “He threw two beautiful balls that both could’ve been caught.”

Patterson, who didn’t travel with the team to Arkansas or LSU, has been quarterbacking the scout team in practice but will take snaps with the offense until a decision is made to burn the redshirt or keep it on, Freeze said. Coaches won’t finalize the 70-player travel squad for Saturday’s game at Texas A&M (7-2, 4-2) until Thursday.

The sample sizes are minuscule for both, but teammates said they like what little they’ve seen.

“I was really impressed with how (Pellerin) came in and managed. Wasn’t panicking,” Engram said. “He settled in the moment and got it done. He finished the game for us, and that’s huge for the offense going into this week. Even Shea, watching him make plays in practice and all through camp, if I didn’t watch a play of football and watched Shea play, I would not think he’s a true freshman.”

Freeze isn’t the only one waiting to see what happens at a position that’s suddenly in flux.

“I’ll be eager to see what goes on,” offensive lineman Javon Patterson said.