Editor’s Note: Welcome to our “QB Film Room,” where A&M’s former four-year starting quarterback and two-year team captain David Walker takes a look at the performance of the Rebels’ offense in the team’s most recent game. In this edition, David breaks down the 59-42 win over South Carolina.
OXFORD, Miss. — This past Saturday night against the Gamecocks in Vaught-Hemingway, on one particular 91-yard Ole Miss pass play, well, head coach Lane Kiffin ‘Let F’n Go’ of his clipboard (ahem, call sheet)… before a 30-yard sideline sprint and a remarkable highlight-reel spike of an imaginary football.
BOOM! Lane Train Coming Through!
However, this wasn’t even the best part of the show. No, that was taking place ON the field where real footballs were being thrown. In as complete of an offensive exhibition as you’ll ever see, the Rebels cut it loose against a respectable South Carolina defense in ways that were once again historic in nature.
I will say this about the creativity and ingenuity this Ole Miss staff exhibits in every game: you never know what they’ll come up with next. Their deployment of super-athlete Elijah Moore in spots all over the field continues to astound. Like Coach Kiffin says, “This isn’t Little League. Everybody doesn’t get the same amount of touches.”
Good point, because a playmaker’s a playmaker, and special is special.
Speaking of special, Ole Miss quarterback Matt Corral followed up his record-breaking Vanderbilt performance with another record-breaker. The Rebels (3-4) finished with 708 yards of offense, the most in school history in an SEC game. Corral finished 28-of-32 for 513 yards passing, a school record, including four touchdowns through the air and one rushing TD.
As those of you who frequent our QB Film Room may know, I place a lot of weight in ESPN’s Total QBR metric as, over time, it has been a reliable indicator of the nation’s best quarterbacks.
College football is about winning: just ask Muschamp. But does it have to be so much fun? Yes, yes it does. LFG.
Let’s get to the film room…
Here in the Rebels’ first possession, it doesn’t appear that South Carolina has bought into the Drop-8 defense, and as a result we’re looking for a big passing night from the word “Go Deep.”
The Gamecocks man up and have their Mike Backer (#53) spying QB Matt Corral. The offensive line slides right showing run and the tight end protects the back side. RB Henry Parrish slips through the B-gap into the right flat for the wide-open catch, proving once again that you can’t be spying the quarterback and playing Man at the same time.
With the game tied at 7-7, the Rebels line up in a bit of a bunch formation with three receivers just inside the right hash. The Gamecocks are forced into Man coverage, whether they like it or not, and what we have now is some good old backyard football — “Cover me if you can.”
While the other two receivers go vertically and laterally, Elijah Moore runs a soft corner with a head fake that leaves the DB looking like, well, he’s playing in someone’s backyard. Matt’s right on time with the throw and Ole Miss gets another nice play. Apparently No. 8 is quite the possession receiver, as well.
I really like the design on this play with the RB motion to the trips side. It adds a potential receiver to the wide side as an outlet while your three wide receivers work the secondary. Elijah lines up widest and while the other two receivers run deep on the post and the wheel routes, Elijah finds the curl area open. Matt had both Elijah and tight end Kenny Yeboah open on the throw.
Coaching note: they can’t stop a curl route in zone coverage. Take it.
The naked bootleg out of the Pistol look nets a nice gain here on the deep drag route to wide receiver Dontario Drummond. Corral has the option of throwing the flat to the tight end and also has a deep out available at the top. Elijah Moore is going top to bottom on a crossing pattern to clear the area for Drummond. Notice the excellent footwork by Corral in getting set to throw.
Here the Rebels line up with Jerrion Ealy and Moore in a 2-back set. By now we all realize that just about anyone can line up just about anywhere in this offense, right?
This play looks like it’s a run all the way with the guard pulling and the great fake by Moore, but it’s really a simple seam pattern by Ealy—which his defender recognizes a step too late. Corral puts just enough zip on the ball to beat the free safety for the score.
On this play the Rebels motion to Trips to the short side of the field. Watch as the second receiver runs his curl route, the motion man goes on a wheel route, and the wide receiver beats the safety on an inside Go route. Corral floats the deep ball perfectly to wide receiver Braylon Sanders for a big gainer.
Here the Rebs have a 3rd and Goal in a tie game just before halftime. Corral will lose a fumble that could’ve easily turned into a scoop-and-6 for South Carolina, but fortunately didn’t. This is the naked bootleg, most likely the riskiest play the coaching staff has in its short yardage/goal line package. There are a lot of moving parts in a small corner of the field, and any blitz off the edge can blow this play up, as happens here. This is the play that probably cost Matt his second weekly QBR crown of the 2020 season.
You’ve got to hand it to Matt Corral on this play. The Rebels are in good field position for a longish field goal attempt, but if there’s a spot open in the end zone, Matt’s looking for it. With no clear shot, he swings it out to Snoop Conner. Snoop’s sense of timing and distance proves invaluable as he steps out of bounds with but one replay-retrieved second to play, allowing for a Luke Logan chip-shot field goal that gives Ole Miss the halftime lead.
As we begin the second half, we’re reminded of what we said earlier about curl routes against zone coverage. Get him the football. After a quick shift into Trips, Elijah Moore runs his curl route from the second receiver spot, and Matt rifles it home. The offensive line continues to be the fortress that’s necessary to allow the QB’s focus to remain downfield.
Here we go on a 4th and 10 on the South Carolina 39-yard line. It’s a bit of a no-man’s land kicking or punting-wise, and as Coach Kiffin says, you’ve got to have confidence in your players. This route is a deep curl by Sanders and a perfectly executed throw by Matt Corral, good for 17 yards and another huge 4th-down conversion.
We’re almost to the end of the 3rd quarter and the Rebels have allowed two TD’s to their one in the 2nd half, and now trail 35-31. Soon-to-be-former South Carolina coach Will Muschamp has decided that since he can’t get to the QB, he’ll just drop 8 and see if he can pick one off.
Not here, not now.
Matt will find Sanders on a deep post route behind an Elijah Moore dig route that the safety is drawn to. Isolate and Eliminate.
So, here’s the longest pass play of what, the last century and a half? I mean, we’re in a tight ball game here, too. Once again behind by four and now in the 4th quarter, well, the smart money’s feeling a little queasy. FYI, the spread on this game had opened at Ole Miss -7, then moved to -10, then -11.5, and closed by kickoff at -13.5. Trap game, maybe?
So how about 91 yards with one flip of the arm? The Rebels go Trips to the wide side of the field outside the hash, with Elijah Moore the THIRD receiver. Third receivers normally draw the best matchup in coverage, like a nickel back or maybe even a Willie linebacker. If they’re playing zone, they’re usually just taking up space. This guy’s playing zone.
Matt sees the safety leaning to the short side of the field, and with a pump fake to the right, the safety sure enough is all in. Where the guy goes who’s “covering” Number 8 is anybody’s guess. And soon, we have one now-famous call sheet flying high into the night sky.
Here’s the “wide-angle replay” of the longest pass play from scrimmage in Ole Miss history, 91 yards from Matt Corral to Elijah Moore. Coach Kiffin also wins the weekly ‘Speed Freak’ ribbon, going away.
The Rebels have a 10-point lead at the SC 25 and it’s 4th and 11. The smart money is saying, “We haven’t come this far to lose.” Yet, Ole Miss is just trying to win a football game and analytics say a 3-score lead beats a 2-score lead.
The Rebels once again line up in a 2-back set, once again Ealy and Moore. This time, however, the fake goes to Ealy and Moore runs the seam route between a flat route and a deep post that’s run by other receivers. And, as expected, he somehow gets lost in the woodwork, making it an easy pitch and catch for the game-clinching score. (Not that the smart money didn’t have a whole lot of sweating to do before this one was over.)
I call this Harmony. Great job, Rebs.
Barring any delay due to COVID-19, Ole Miss is scheduled to play Mississippi State (2-4) in the annual Egg Bowl on November 28. Kickoff is set for 3:00 p.m.