Bo Wallace's maturity grows at Ole Miss

The Bo Wallace Hugh Freeze knows now blows 2010 Bo Wallace out of the water.

When both were together at Arkansas State, Freeze saw the obvious talent that Wallace, who was a freshman at the time, possessed, but he also saw the youth -- lots of it. Playing backup and being fresh out of high school, Wallace wasn't the biggest grownup out there.

"He was an immature knucklehead," Freeze said of Wallace Wednesday, "as a lot of us are when we come out of high school."

He also noticed the frustration of playing behind someone. That frustration led to Wallace leaving Arkansas State for what he hoped would be greener pastures at East Mississippi Community College. And he was right.

Wallace bided his time, but eventually reunited with his old coach after Freeze took the Ole Miss job last December. Freeze didn't think the two would be working together again, but when he realized the Rebels' quarterback situation needed help, Wallace was the first name that popped into his head.

Wallace joined the Rebels this spring, and was named the starter just before the season started. Through seven games, Wallace has helped guide Ole Miss to four wins (two more than last year) and has passed for 1,371 yards and nine touchdowns. He has also carried the ball 80 times for 225 yards and five more scores.

"He's matured so much since his freshman year there at Arkansas State," Freeze said. "Real pleased with the way he's preparing himself each week and the way he's leading our football team."

While Wallace, who helped Ole Miss win its first SEC game in nearly two years, has been the best option at quarterback in a while for the Rebels, he still has a lot he needs to clean up. Wallace has thrown eight interceptions and has fumbled the ball four times, with two being recovered by the defense.

Freeze blamed himself and his coaches for putting too much on Wallace's plate early, which led to more pressing on Wallace's part, but he knows that if Wallace and this team are going to up their win total, ball security has to improve.

To help, Freeze sits down with Wallace two to three times a week to make sure Wallace can go over verbatim what he thinks his progression should be, how he will handle it and what issues could be in protections on individual plays. If Wallace doesn't feel comfortable with a certain play or progression, it's scratched.

But it also comes down to Wallace making better decisions when the pressure comes. That's something Freeze can't teach.

"It has to do with us limiting the plan and him also understanding he can't be the gunslinger that he was a year ago and making sure he understands the plan," he said.