OXFORD, Miss. — Before this week’s Rebel Walk QB Film Room begins, I have a quick story about alternating quarterbacks each play. When I was a junior in high school, I was the starting free safety and a backup to a returning all-district senior quarterback. I’d been the junior varsity quarterback and free safety the year before.
Well, the senior QB broke his collarbone playing baseball over the summer and I started the first three games. When he recovered, I’d done pretty well so our coach decided to alternate us every play with a lefty-righty combination never seen before or since. The senior QB and I happened to be very close friends, which never changed, and had similar dual-threat skill sets.
Plus, we were TEAM players.
We did this for several games and then he took over full-time in game seven, and I continued with my job at free safety, which I had the remainder of my high school career.
We were undefeated throughout the regular season, finally losing by two points to Captain Shreve in the state quarterfinals. Sulphur, my high school which is located near Lake Charles in Southwest Louisiana, had a football program that had beaten Terry Bradshaw in the ‘65 state championship, Bert Jones in the ‘68 semis, and lost a close one to Joe Ferguson in the ‘68 finals. Our coach, Shannon Suarez, is in the Louisiana High School Hall of Fame. We had a great staff, obviously. They were excellent decision makers and game managers.
The senior quarterback, Lester Saucier, earned all-state that year and was very heavily recruited, and I was voted all-state the following year. Alternating each play was obviously very effective for us individually and for the team. We won every game and had zero dissension among our townspeople or on our team. It was unique and worked like a charm.
So there you go. It’s been done before with great success at the highest level of high school football, and we saw it some last Saturday against Missouri as John Rhys Plumlee and Matt Corral tagged in and out for the Rebels. These two Ole Miss quarterbacks obviously have great respect for one another, their coaches and their team–and it makes the QB Film Room quite fun!
QB Film Room – Ole Miss 27, Missouri 38
We’re very early in the game and have a 3rd-and-long here. The Rebels will send three receivers out, hoping to hit the quick slant to the single receiver up top. When he slips and goes down and the two receivers to the QB’s right are covered, the wheels are put in motion for a big first down.
Here we see a pass play that’s been absent since the Memphis game, and even in that game the football was thrown to the wide receiver instead of the running back who was on a wheel route down the right sideline. In this case, the ball does go to Scottie Phillips, and he makes a nice catch on a perfectly-placed pass from John Rhys Plumlee for the score.
Next we have a 57-yard touchdown run by quarterback John Rhys Plumlee on a stretch play off the reverse fake to the slot receiver. It’s blocked to perfection by the line with a great cut by the QB. Only one problem: a holding call brings it back to midfield. I’d keep it in the playbook.
This is one the Rebels’s favorite sprintout plays out of the no-back set. The formation is Quads right, and the quarterback keys the far cornerback’s depth on the snap. If the CB stays close on the Tight End who’s lined up wide, he’ll throw to another receiver behind him. If the CB backs up deeper, he’ll go short to his 270-pound Tight End Octavius Cooley, and let him go on the attack.
Here’s a well-designed pass play and a favorite of the Rebels. They go no-back with Trips to the short side of the field. With the safety favoring the three-receiver side, this opens things up for Elijah Moore on the post pattern out of his slot position to the wide side. Matt Corral is on the money for a nice gain.
Here’s a look at how intricate of an offensive scheme the Rebels have this year. They go no-back with RB Scottie Phillips in the slot to the right of the formation. The line will slide to the right in its pass protection. Watch Scottie come all the way across the formation to pick up the backside defensive end with a tremendous block. You rarely see this type of design and execution. Aside from that, it’s another very well-timed completion from Corral to Moore.
This is a heartbreaker here with the ‘what-ifs’ already mounting. Earlier it could’ve been a 14–3 game except for the holding, and now there’s a shot at going up 14-12 at the half. Ole Miss goes unbalanced with the Tight End aligned to the left. The Rebels here are running their version of the triple option, reading the defensive end for the handoff key, then keeping or tossing it out to Moore on the flare.
Handoff reads can get messy, and here the handoff is made when the ball should have been pulled back for a walk into the end zone. Keep in mind, things are happening extremely fast on that field. As one who field tested the original triple option, it’s not my favorite call in a goal line situation.
Here again, we see the offensive line sliding right for pass pro and the RB and TE crossing the formation to protect the backside with excellent blocks. With the WR running the stop route at the bottom, in effect holding the cornerback close, Elijah Moore beats his man on the Go route behind them for the over-the-shoulder catch. John Rhys Plumlee, from a clean pocket, drops it in perfectly for the score.
Next we have a double Twins set from the right hash. As in the play before, the Rebels will work the right side of the field with a stop route by the WR and a Go route by the slot receiver, Demarcus Gregory. The QB has double slants to his left but takes the man coverage on Demarcus up top. It’s another nice throw by an Ole Miss quarterback and an excellent reception.
We haven’t seen much out of the shovel passes this season, so I wanted to get this one in here. It’s nicely designed and very well executed by the O-line and RB Scottie Phillips. With the sprintouts the Rebels run, it’s always an option in your play-calling.
This play was the culmination of a drive implementing the two-quarterback system alternating each play — to the obvious objections of the announcers. While it’s hard to argue with success, it’s also hard to understand how John Rhys Plumlee can take the football, fake out a defensive end in the backfield, and run all the way into the end zone some 40 yards downfield untouched.
The bottom line
Ole Miss has a very deep QB room, and from what I’ve seen of redshirt freshman Matt Corral and true freshman John Rhys Plumlee, the quarterback position is in good hands. Although the Rebels enter the game as 5.5-point underdogs against A&M, this game is very winnable for Ole Miss if the team keeps penalties and turnovers to a minimum.
The Rebels and Aggies kick off at 6:30 p.m. (CT) and the game will be televised on the SEC Network.
See you next week in The QB Film Room!