OXFORD, Miss. – After the conclusion of Saturday’s Grove Bowl, sophomore wide receiver D.K. Metcalf made a statement about the Ole Miss offense—one with which many people will agree:
“We can be the best in the nation.”
Ole Miss wide receiver D.K. Metcalf
The 6-foot-4, 225-lb Metcalf also made a statement with his play on the field in the Rebels’ spring game, showing fans in attendance what the sophomore can do when he is the No. 1 target for senior quarterback Jordan Ta’amu.
In Saturday’s culmination of spring camp, the Rebels’ offense ran sets without wide receivers Floyd Allen, Braylon Sanders, A.J. Brown, and DaMarkus Lodge, but fortunately Metcalf was there, and he gave Ole Miss fans plenty about which to be excited.
The Oxford, Miss. native finished with three receptions for 64 yards and two scores, one coming off a deep, 53-yard pass down the left sideline in a one-on-one matchup with sophomore cornerback D.D. Bowie.
(Click here for box score.)
After the scrimmage, Metcalf said he didn’t realize the football was coming his way. He thought the play was designed for senior wide receiver Alex Weber, so during the play Metcalf said he stopped running—but he eventually picked up his speed once he saw the ball in the air headed his way.
“I really thought Jordan threw the ball to A. Dub on other side, so I basically slowed down and he (Bowie) slowed down, too,” Metcalf said. “And when I saw that he released the ball to my side, I struck out as fast as I could.”
With the way Ta’amu played last season after Shea Patterson went down with a season-ending injury, there is no doubt Ole Miss could have one of the most talented offenses in the Southeastern Conference in 2018. Last season, Ta’amu completed 115 of 173 passes for 1,682 yards and 11 touchdowns in the team’s final five regular season games. Metcalf played a key role in that success, finishing with 39 receptions for 646 yards and seven touchdowns last year.
Brown and Lodge, of course, were significant targets as well. Brown led the SEC in receiving yards (1,252) and Lodge had his best season to date, with 698 receiving yards and seven scores on 41 receptions.
Despite the injuries to some of the wide receivers, Metcalf feels the unit had a solid spring camp.
“I think our wide receiver room is great. We came to work everyday, regardless of the injuries, even though we only had four receivers practicing. We all just came to work and got better.”
D.K. Metcalf on the Rebels’ receivers
Depth at tight end
The wide receivers are not the only part of the equation that could make the Rebels’ offense pretty dynamic this year. Dawson Knox, who didn’t practice during the spring due to injury, will lead the tight end room come fall. And the emergence of Octavious Cooley this spring could result in offensive coordinator Phil Longo going with a two-tight end set at times.
An experienced offensive line, which will be led by Sean Rawlings, Alex Givens, Jordan Sims, Greg Little, and Javon Patterson, is always a plus.
Establishing a running game is something the Rebels have worked on a great deal this spring. They’re looking to find the success they enjoyed last season with Jordan Wilkins, who rushed for 1,011 yards and nine scores.
The running backs showed promise in the Grove Bowl as junior college transfer Scottie Phillips looked solid, finishing with nine carries for 40 yards. Amrani Linton rushed for 35 yards on five carries, while Eric Swinney gained 32 yards on seven carries.
Isaiah Woullard picked up 20 yards on the ground off of five carries.
Establishing a running game would take a lot of pressure off of Ta’amu, and if that happens, defenses will have a difficult time stopping the Ole Miss offense.
“We’re trying to establish a run game, and I think we did a good job of that this spring,” Metcalf said.
“And everyone knows we can throw the ball all around—so we’ve got a chance to be really special.”