The Rebels have a conundrum when it comes to their future at quarterback. USC transfer Jaxson Dart was expected to be the favorite to win the starting job in place of Matt Corral during spring, but he spent most of March and April learning the playbook.
Luke Altmyer, who played in place of Corral in the Sugar Bowl against No. 7 Baylor, looked confident in spring and might have taken the advantage. Then again, he is well-versed with Kiffin’s playbook, so having the advantage early might have boosted his stock.
Kiffin isn’t going to sugarcoat it as season approaches. Dart has to play better if the Rebels are going to be a viable threat in the SEC West following a 10-win season. So will Altmyer, who hasn’t looked like his spring self all summer.
“I thought the first two guys didn't play great," Kiffin said. "They took too many sacks. Even though we're not hitting them, they would've been sacks."
Perhaps the tape will say more on which passer took strides, but usually, film is used for finding negatives. In Kiffin’s eyes, most of Dart and Altmyer’s reps weren’t up to his standards.
Dart looked more comfortable leading the offense compared to Alytmer. According to reports, he completed 14 of 17 passes for just over 200 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Those in attendance also watched his deep ball thrive in action, connecting with receiver Qua Davis for a 50-yard gain.
But again, pocket awareness is essential to playing quarterback in the SEC. Dart failed to feel the pressure and was taken down behind the line. Altmyer fared worse, going 13 of 20 for 126 yards without a score.
Does this open the door for junior quarterback Kinkead Dent to perhaps expand his rep count? Dent, a native of Yazoo City, led the third-team offense down to score twice.
“We play a little game with the quarterbacks predicting who the MVP of the day is going to be,” Kiffin said. “I'd like to go on record that I picked Kinkead Dent to be the MVP today so that maybe had something to do with the play calling down there that he threw those touchdowns for me to win that bet. But he did a good job.”
Dart, Altmyer, Dent? One of the three will have to start against Troy come Sept. 3. So far, it’s been Altmyer and Dart splitting reps between first- and second-team offense. Perhaps Dent gets a chance in the coming week?
Kiffin said scrimmages are important because it gives the staff a clear vision of the direction the Rebels are headed. The tape will tell more – and perhaps that’s not a positive.
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