OXFORD, Miss. — Ole Miss defeated Vanderbilt, 31-6, Saturday in a Homecoming victory at Vaught-Hemingway Saturday. True freshman QB John Rhys Plumlee accounted for 264 yards of offense and led the team in rushing with a freshman record 165 yards and one touchdown on 22 attempts.
In this week’s edition of The Rebel Walk QB Film Room, we take a look at Plumlee’s performance, one that ultimately won him Freshman of the Week honors as announced by the SEC Monday morning.
QB Film Room – Ole Miss 31, Vandy 6
Last week, we discussed the “Counter Trey” blocking scheme the Rebels are using. On this play, watch John Rhys Plumlee fake the quick pitch to his left, then follow the blocking of his left guard and tackle as they pull to kick out the End and turn up on the linebacker. It’s excellent execution by the entire offensive line and the quarterback.
Here, you’ll see Plumlee doing a great job of improvising after his tight end gets covered in the flat, and he ducks the rush after faking the handoff. It’s a superb demonstration of the reflexes of this QB as he makes a big play out of what normally would be a sack.
I’ve seen this play several times now and it appears it may be designed for the QB to get the defender to leave his feet on the fake pass, then zoom by him, much like a basketball player faking a three and then driving for the bucket. In this event, defensive end coaches are going to have to coach their players not to leave their feet, much like in basketball. And as in basketball, it’s a hard ask. If this is the design, cool. We’ll keep our eyes on it.
This next play highlights the backfield cross-action series from the two-back set. Whereas last week we saw the Rebels run tight end Jason Pellerin from the opposite side to kick out the defensive end, this time Octavius Cooley lines up play side and does a fine job of maintaining contact. This allows Plumlee an inside-outside read and his speed and some excellent downfield blocking get the Rebels the score.
Here we have another designed running play for the quarterback, and the execution is flawless. The offensive line does a great job of zone blocking, both controlling the defenders on the line of scrimmage and getting next level to the linebackers. Tight end Jason Pellerin and running back Jerrion Ealy lay solid blocks on the Vandy linebacker and strong safety, and the QB does the rest, breaking tackles and running for daylight.
The Rebels on this play have a 3rd-and-2 situation. They line up with a tight end Trips set to the right, with the back also aligned to the right. Plumlee sprints right looking for and finding Elijah Moore on the quick out, good for the first down. Notice tight end Octavious Cooley with a nice sealing block securing the corner, and the running back taking a blitzing safety.
This isn’t a quarterback play, per se, but it’s a great look at the line’s execution of the Counter Trey, and some ingenuity in the backfield out of the 2-back setup on the same side. The result is Jerrion Ealy going the distance in a heartbeat with the same blocking scheme that Plumlee scored with earlier.
This next play looks like a pass play that was covered up, but on second look, you’ll see a linebacker and a quarterback playing cat and mouse. Plumlee will fake a run to the middle, then will simply outrun the Spy linebacker to the outside. There’s some excellent effort at the end of the play as he dives for the first down marker. This kind of effort is a priceless commodity for a football team.
Here’s yet another way of running downhill with your speedy quarterback. The Rebels line up with both tight ends side by side outside the right tackle, with a running back also to their side. Then it’s the quarterback on the stretch play and, yes, he does make the corner. This is just old-school, smash-mouth football with a chance for a big play breaking out.
Here’s a very nicely placed Go route to the short side of the field. The Rebels line up in Trips top-side and work the single-receiver below because they’re finally seeing some press coverage here in the fourth quarter from the Vandy cornerbacks. It’s very well timed and features a nice catch over the opposite shoulder by true freshman receiver Jadon Jackson.
The bottom line
Any good coach, even in this pass-happy football world of ours, knows a good thing when he sees it. He may explore other options during the course of a game but will ultimately focus on what is proving successful. This was the case Saturday night when the Rebs beat Vandy.
Ole Miss turned what was expected to be a one-score game into a dominating 25-point win–and did so with a style that is unique in the SEC, using an offensive system designed to deceive and to overpower while exhibiting surprising explosiveness from every position. Gaining over 500 yards at 8.3 a clip while executing the game plan throughout is a pretty good brand of football.
Plumlee’s performance was record-breaking for an Ole Miss freshman QB but, more importantly, it was also a winning performance that gives the Rebels a key SEC victory. With Matt Corral earning Freshman of the Week honors after the Arkansas win, Ole Miss may be the only school in the country that has two QBs who have each already won that honor this season.
See you next week in the QB Film Room!