OXFORD, Miss. — Ole Miss quarterback Matt Corral and Alabama’s Mac Jones put on quite a show last Saturday when the Rebels and Tide met at the Vaught.
As a former four-year starting quarterback, I love to examine the QB play of the nation’s best signal-callers. The metric I place the most stock in is ESPN’s Total QBR because it has so accurately measured the college QBs who go on to do well in the NFL.
Perhaps the moniker “QBR1″ is more apt for Matt as he once again sits at No. 1 in Total QBR for the cumulative 2020 season, just slightly ahead of Mac, who finished No. 1 for Week 6 but remains a tad behind Corral for the season’s overall ranking.
“I don’t want to rat poison the guy, but A-plus,” head coach Lane Kiffin said Monday, when asked to give Corral a grade.
“He’s made so many plays, bailed us out of different things. I don’t know, he was No. 1 last week, but Mac’s probably No. 1 now, but I’m sure they’re still one and two in the country in quarterback efficiency. He’s played lights-out, which is difficult. I don’t know many people would’ve expected that having no spring and in a quarterback competition. It’s not like he’s an established starter in the third year of a system. This is all new for him,” Kiffin added.
As I suggested would be the case in last week’s QB Film Room article, we saw incredible play from both quarterbacks at Vaught-Hemingway last Saturday. But after shredding an imposing Alabama defense both by air and by ground, Matt maintained his grip on overall No. 1 in the ESPN QBR rankings.
Both Matt and Mac, barring injury, appear to be destined for a season-long battle for the very top spot, perennially a key ingredient for a quarterback winning the Heisman.
What is Total QBR?
Before we take a look in our film room at some of the plays that helped keep Matt at No. 1, many of you have asked what the difference is between Total QBR — a complex data metric that dates back to 2004 and is known for having only the most elite quarterbacks grace its upper echelon, and NCAA Passer Efficiency.
ESPN explains it this way:
“Unlike NCAA Passer Efficiency, which uses only box score statistics, Total QBR accounts for what a quarterback does on a play-by-play level, meaning it accounts for down, distance, field position, as well as the clock and score.
For example, a 5-yard gain on third-and-4 is a good play; whereas, a 5-yard gain on third-and-14 isn’t. A 20-yard touchdown pass when tied in the second quarter means more than a 20-yard touchdown pass when down 30 points late in the fourth quarter. QBR accounts for those things using analysis that turns traditional productivity into points on the scoreboard and wins in the standings.”
The Total QBR also accounts for a quarterback’s ability to scramble, his ability to run on designed rush plays, how well he avoids sacks, drawing and committing penalties, and all-important fumbles, which can be significant for quarterbacks.
QB Film Room: Matt Corral excels against Tide defense
Now, let’s take a look at a few of the plays that impacted Matt’s score and, again, this is against the Crimson Tide–not some weak, non-conference foe. Matt finished 21-of-28 for 365 yards and two touchdowns. He also added 40 yards on the ground.
Outstanding plays were quite numerous, as the Rebels ran 86 total plays for 647 yards. For the game, Ole Miss kept drives alive on 13-of-21 occasions when facing third and fourth downs.
Here are some of the plays that caught my attention:
The first series of the game lasts less than a minute, a 3-play drive for 75 yards, highlighted by some excellent tomfoolery that had Alabama on its heels for the rest of the night. In this clip, you see two excellent passes on the drive from Matt Corral to tight end Kenny Yeboah, the latter a jump pass for the touchdown.
Here’s our first big third down of the game on the Rebels’ second possession. Tight end Kenny Yeboah runs a shallow drag pattern against Cover 2-Man coverage and with excellent protection, quarterback Matt Corral makes it look easy for the first down.
After a 22-yard run on 3rd and 27, the Rebels are going for it here on 4th down (because that’s what they do). Jerrion Ealy slips over to the left side pre-snap, then races to the outside while his covering linebacker gets lost in the shuffle. Corral makes a perfectly-placed throw to Ealy for a big first down.
Here on a big 3rd and 4 with five to play in the half, QB Matt Corral runs the naked boot, incorporating a burst of speed on a couple of occasions to elude Alabama wannabe tacklers on his way to a drive-sustaining first down.
Here’s a huge 4th down play. As I was watching the game, I saw the Bama defense loading up on the left side, obviously getting their “signals” crossed. “Run Right! Run Right!” That was me yelling, and it’s exactly what the Rebels did. This was an excellent read by quarterback Matt Corral and a fine job of execution.
Second down and 22? No problem. Here QB Matt Corral finds a little room to work off to his left, giving No. 1 nationally-ranked receiver Elijah Moore time to shake loose for a big gainer. Even the late Ken Stabler would be shaking his head at Corral’s outstanding use of a sidearm delivery on this throw.
I was personally forced into running the triple option when it was new, and I am not a fan. But the “speed option,” when run in certain situations in this offense, can be really effective. Nice execution by quarterback Matt Corral here in attack mode.
Here, late in the game on 3rd & 8, Ole Miss quarterback Matt Corral has three receivers on routes with full protection, and wide receiver Elijah Moore simply jukes the safety on a post look and then runs past him. Matt makes another excellent downfield throw for the first down.
It Just Means More: SEC QBs
When eight of the Top 10 QBR’s hail from the SEC, with scores all in the 90’s, it’s been an exceptional week for SEC quarterbacks.
For the week, Mac Jones (1) and Matt Corral (2) are followed by A&M’s Kellen Mond (3), South Carolina’s Collin Hill (4), UGA’s Stetson Bennett (6), Florida’s Kyle Trask (7), Missouri’s Connor Bazelak (8), and Arkansas’ Feleipe Franks (10)
There may not have been a “W” for the Rebels this night out, but with Matt Corral at QB, they’re ‘Hell Yeah, Damn Right’ impressive–and already scary good!