In The Quarterback’s Call, our expert analyst QB David Walker, the NCAA’s youngest starter and forefather of true freshman QBs, takes a look at eight impressive plays the Ole Miss offense ran against A&M. These plays were keys to the Rebels’ big win in Aggieland.
This pass play is the first deep pass of Shea Patterson’s career, thrown on his initial possession, and it is a beautiful strike. Right away, one gets an indication of Patterson’s deep-ball accuracy. Unfortunately, Ole Miss receiver Damore’ea Stringfellow is forced to try and make the catch with only one hand due to his left arm rendered useless by a defensive tactic that is normally viewed by officiating crews as illegal. Nevertheless, it’s a phenomenal deep shot by the true freshman.
This play is the perfect setup to RUN the football, a 5-on-5 game of “Hat to Hat Combat.” Texas A&M lines up defensively with four down linemen and a Mike Linebacker, with Ole Miss in a one-back set. Now you get a hat on everybody defensively and let the running back shoot past them.
On this play you see the running style and the drive of Shea Patterson, somewhat reminiscent of the jail-break romps from the pocket by another youngster who once played at Kyle Field, Johnny Manziel.
So much of today’s offensive effectiveness depends on the quick slant off of a good fake to the running back, and here it is executed to perfection to Shea’s backside. This play takes a ton of work because precision is key. Having an incredible true freshman receiver like A.J. Brown intent on breaking tackles is obviously an added plus.
This play is of particular significance because it shows the improvisational artistry of young Shea Patterson, as he is flushed from the pocket. Notice how he’s fighting to maintain his balance a split second before delivering the perfect ball downfield–while on the dead run. Nope, not many QB’s out there make this play happen.
This play is the one that brought Brent Musberger’s night to a fever pitch with the exuberant utterances of the name “Johnny Manziel,” and it’s easy to see why. As we watch the play unfold and see Shea running laterally, getting ever closer to the sideline, we expect him to throw the ball away as it appears no one is clearing. This, however, would have left the Rebels facing a dangerous fourth down play, and who wants that, right?
Instead, Shea reverses his field back to his left, leaving an out-foxed defender sprawling in his wake, and then deftly squares up his body as he makes the perfect throw for an Ole Miss touchdown to a wide-open Stringfellow.
The Rebels and Shea Patterson come back to the long pass to Stringfellow on this play, identical to the deep ball thrown on the first series to Damore’ea. In a great adjustment due to his earlier experience with this particular defensive back, Stringfellow allowed for the hold and used all his powers of athleticism and concentration to somehow secure control of this perfectly thrown football.
Although this isn’t the game-winning pass, it is certainly the one that has the Aggie faithful gasping for breath as the unthinkable seems to be unfolding before their eyes. Just as Johnny Manziel had done twice in Oxford in rallying his team from 7 and 10 point deficits in the final minutes to inflict heartbreaking losses for the Rebels at Vaught-Hemingway in both 2012 and 2013, it appeared the role reversal in Kyle Field was becoming very apparent. Nothing brings it home more, other than the game-winning kick by Gary Wunderlich, than this perfect pitch-and-catch in the end zone by Shea to fellow freshman Van Jefferson on the go route.
(Yes, The Aggies have just been “Johnny’d.”)
Stay tuned for the next edition of “The Quarterback’s Call” when former quarterback David Walker analyzes the Rebels’ game with Vanderbilt.
(Feature image credit: Dan Anderson, The Rebel Walk)