Looking ahead at the future of the quarterback position at Ole Miss
Despite some of the upside Jaxson Dart has shown and the Heisman Trophy hype — warranted or not — that surrounded him at the start of the season, the USC transfer has still yet to fully lock down the starting gig at Ole Miss.
The battle for the No. 1 spot on the depth chart between Dart and Luke Altmyer began in the spring and has yet to conclude headed into Week 3. Between the first 2 weeks, head coach Lane Kiffin gave both players a chance to start 1 game, indicating he’d make a decision between the pair after Week 2.
But that has yet to happen, with things getting even tougher as Altmyer went down with an upper-body injury during the Central Arkansas game. Altmyer completed 6 of 13 passes for 90 yards with 2 touchdowns and 1 interception — an interception that Kiffin indicated after the game may have happened because he was banged up.
“I felt bad for Luke because he was injured, and he’s so competitive that he stayed in, even when we asked him,” Kiffin said. “I think you could see on the interception, obviously there was an issue there.”
Altmyer apparently knew he wasn’t at full capacity even when he went back into the game, but it was clear he wanted to make the most of the opportunity. He did well by any means, and even more so considering the circumstances.
“It wasn’t something where medical pulled him,” Kiffin told reporters. “He was hurt. I asked him about putting him back in there in the 2nd half, and he just said he would go, but he just knew he wasn’t 100 percent.”
Dart came in after Altmyer exited, completing 10 of 15 passes for 162 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Kiffin said in his Monday press conference that a decision would be reached later in the week about the starter moving forward. Ole Miss is set to play its next game against Georgia Tech on Saturday.
“He was out there today,” Kiffin said of Altmyer. “I think he’ll be all right. We’re just going to push forward the way we’ve been going. We’ll figure out who goes first at some point later in the week.”
Kiffin sees some good in what both quarterbacks have shown, but also sees room for improvement. That’s something that should be expected considering that neither player can truly be viewed as “experienced,” and they still have some strides to make as pure passers.
“Both guys did some good things,” Kiffin said. “Both guys have some things to improve on.”
Kiffin said on multiple occasions during the presser that the staff would have to look at the film before reaching a decision. It’s easy to see how this one could come down to the wire, given the time Altmyer has spent at Ole Miss and the ceiling and mobility that Dart has.
Dart did made a handful of ill-advised decisions in his start against Troy. But he looked solid on the deep ball and seemed to take a step mentally against Central Arkansas.
“I think it was taking what the defense gave us this week,” Dart said. “Last week, against Troy, they kept everything in front of them. We didn’t get a lot of opportunities to get behind them and get big plays. This week, we did have those opportunities. For me, I just have trust in the guys that are out there and I’m going to give them a shot.”
It should be noted that Dart has played more than Altmyer has through these 2 games because of the unfortunate injury. But Altmyer still showed the ability to have success at the helm in the time he did see against the Bears.
Dart has been the media’s favorite to start since well ahead of the season. Whether or not that comes to fruition is something we’ll know soon.