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Neither of Ole Miss’ top two quarterbacks have separated from the other entering the final days of spring practice.
USC transfer Jaxson Dart, who threw for 1,353 yards and nine touchdowns in three starts last season as a freshman, has shown flashes. But Luke Altmyer, who backed up Matt Corral and played sparingly in five games as a freshman at Ole Miss in 2021, has been steadier, though less spectacular.
“I think up and down,” Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin said Tuesday when asked about the quarterback race with the spring game on Saturday (1 p.m. eastern, ESPN +, SEC Network +). “I think both guys have done good things, made big plays.”
But every time one appears to be making a move, they go backwards.
“Seems like they’re both kind of never on (at the same time),” Kiffin said. “One will have a good day. The other will turn it over, and then it switches the other day. So, that’s good competition. Doing some new things on offense. Both guys really don’t know a ton of playing time.”
Jaxson completed 117 of 189 passes with five interceptions in six games last season at USC. He did complete 30 of 46 for 391 yards and four touchdowns with two interceptions in a 42-14 win over Washington State. The 391 yards were the most by a debut quarterback in USC history. He started the last three games of the season, which were all losses as the Trojans finished 4-8.
“Jaxson’s had more time, but it wasn’t the best, so not a lot of carryover there,” Kiffin said.
Altmyer completed 20 of 37 passes for 192 yards with a touchdown and an interception.
“I’d like to think with experience, you learn things, so you take all that into account,” Kiffin said.
In addition to replacing Corral, a late first round or early second round projection for the April 28 NFL Draft, at quarterback, Kiffin lost two of his top wide receivers from last year’s 10-3 team that reached the Sugar Bowl — Dontario Drummond and Braylon Sanders — to the draft. There are injuries among the current group.
“Very few receivers,” Kiffin said. “They (the quarterbacks) are suffering from that, too. It is what it is.”
Kiffin is unsure of what the format may be for the spring game because of a lack of numbers due to injuries.
“We’ll determine that later in the week based on our health,” he said. “A lot of new pieces, a lot of injuries. We’ll play the guys that are there and keep pushing the other guys, and eventually be ready for fall camp.”