Randall Mackey suspended for opener

Following his arrest early Tuesday morning, quarterback Randall Mackey has temporarily taken himself out of Ole Miss' quarterback race.

The redshirt junior, and former junior college standout, was arrested for disorderly conduct after a fight at a downtown Oxford bar. Tuesday evening, coach Houston Nutt announced the suspension of Mackey, who held the edge at the starting quarterback spot this spring, for the season opener against BYU. West Virginia sophomore transfer Barry Brunetti will start for the Rebels, Nutt said.

"I've had better days," Nutt said. "Obviously, [Mackey] made a bad decision."

Nutt added that Mackey's practice reps will decrease once he returns.

Brunetti held the edge at the position during all of preseason camp, but this could give Brunetti the edge from here on out. Zack Stoudt will now be the Rebels' No. 2 quarterback.

This could considerably set Mackey back in the quarterback race, but in a twisted sort of way, it benefits Brunetti, who can now concentrate fully on the starting spot. Now is the time for him to truly develop valuable on-field chemistry with his teammates.

The Rebels now have a stable situation at the No. 1 slot, and while it came in a very unfortunate way, this team can finally concentrate on BYU without worrying about who will take the brunt of the snaps against the Cougars.

With the way things were going, Brunetti was likely going to get the start anyway, but the three-man battle would likely have lasted until right before the opener, prolonging an unsettled situation. Now, things are set and a real game plan can be constructed.

Brunetti is the only quarterback with major college football experience, after completing 4 of 9 passes in two games with West Virginia last year. Brunetti transferred to Ole Miss in January and was granted eligibility to play this fall by the NCAA because of a family hardship that required him to be closer to his hometown of Memphis.

"It's kind of exciting, but at the same time it's kind of sad, because Mackey's like my best friend here," Brunetti said. "I've just got to prepare, take each day one step at a time."