OXFORD, Miss. — I’ve got to hand it to Ole Miss quarterback Matt Corral. Although it is early in the Ole Miss season, he has earned my respect and what he’s already accomplished is impressive.
This young man from Ventura, California somehow ended up in Oxford, Mississippi, spent a year redshirting and then, in 2019, was sent to Birmingham by his coach to represent the Rebels at SEC Media Days. There, he did a fine job, especially for a kid who had yet to take a snap in a college football game.
He went out and played well enough in a new system — with his second offensive coordinator (Rich Rodriguez, with Phil Longo prior to him) in as many years — but then got injured in game four of the season against Cal. He was replaced by talented true freshman QB, John Rhys Plumlee, and didn’t see much of the field again.
‘I was never leaving’
By the end of the season, many figured Corral would enter the transfer portal and hightail it back to ‘Football After Dark’ country. (Isn’t this how most QB’s react these days, or is it just my “old school” talking?)
But, Matt didn’t enter the portal. In fact, he told us earlier this fall that definitely was not going to happen. “I was never leaving,” he said matter-of-factly.
He hung in there, and then the fates stepped in and brought the signal caller the perfect head coach-offensive coordinator combination.
The Rebels hired Lane Kiffin as new head coach and Jeff Lebby as offensive coordinator (Corral’s third OC in three years, for those scoring at home). Corral would benefit from this new coach who knew how to maximize his talents, tweak the footwork, and get his eyes off his intended receiver until release time. Now, Corral is wisely eating the ball when nothing’s there or getting the heck out of dodge for big gainers with his legs. Yes, he can run, too.
Corral ranked high in ESPN’s Total QBR
Although Corral was solid last season, he looks nothing short of outstanding thus far in 2020.
How does one quantify his improvement as a complete quarterback from last year to this? Is it via passing completion percentage, rushing yards, total yards, perhaps a ton of passing yards? What’s the metric for judging and assessing a quarterback?
As a former D1 quarterback (four-year starter at A&M and the school’s second-winningest QB of all time), who has been involved with college football and quarterbacking since the early 70’s, I go to one and only one metric each week—ESPN’s Total QBR.
Let’s take a look at the QBR and see where we stand. If you scroll through the years, you’ll find that many of the quarterbacks listed at or near the top are Heisman winners and NFL draft picks. It’s a legit way to determine who the best quarterbacks in the country are.
So now, back to Matt Corral.
Matt’s total QBR in 2019 was an unremarkable 52.4. But in his start against Florida last Saturday, without the benefit of a spring training and in another new system, Matt’s QBR was a very, very remarkable 91.8.
Against the Gators, Corral finished 22-31 for 395 yards and three touchdowns through the air and also added 50 yards on the ground.
Additionally, consider this:
- The Rebels lead the NCAA with a passing efficiency rating of 209.43.
- Corral’s offense boasts the nation’s best third-down conversion percentage, tied with Alabama for No. 1 with a .643 pace.
- Corral’s main target, Elijah Moore, leads the nation in average receiving yards per game with 227.
Quarterbacking will be an extremely strong category for the SEC this season, and one Matt Corral could end up leading the pack.
QB FILM ROOM – Matt Corral vs. Florida
As we did last season, this year we will take a look each week at the QB performances in our “QB Film Room,” examining some of the top plays of the game from the Rebels’ signal caller. This week, here are some of the plays that led to Matt Corral’s 91.8 Total QBR after Week One against Florida.
Video One: Down seven in the first quarter on 3rd and 19, Ole Miss QB Matt Corral finds slot receiver Elijah Moore for a big first down.
Video Two: On the very next play after converting a big 3rd and 19, Matt Corral hits Dontario Drummond for the touchdown, the first in the Lane Kiffin era.
Video Three: Matt Corral and the Ole Miss offense convert their second 3rd and 19 of the game, this time by use of a scramble opportunity by the Rebels’ QB.
Video Four: Down seven points and driving in the 2nd quarter, Matt Corral rolls to his right and finds Dontario Drummond for their second touchdown connection of the game.
Video Five: Matt Corral, here with great protection, waits for TE Kenny Yeboah to open up on the wheel route and throws another perfect strike.
Video Six: Here’s Matt Corral making another play with his feet that led to the Rebels’ fifth touchdown of the game.