COLUMN: Kiffin has plenty of shiny offensive toys to use in 2020
With the highly anticipated arrival of SEC football, after months of COVID-related uncertainty, many Ole Miss fans woke up Saturday morning feeling the excitement usually reserved for Christmas morning.
Although it ultimately was not the Christmas Day head coach Lane Kiffin and Rebels were hoping for, as Ole Miss fell, 51-35, to fifth-ranked Florida, Kiffin learned he has a lot of toys underneath the tree to play with the rest of the season.
Considering that Kiffin and offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby had no spring practice and experienced the oddest preseason in college football history, the duo had to be happy with what was delivered to Vaught-Hemingway Saturday.
To start the game, the pair came up with a way to put both Matt Corral and John-Rhys Plumlee on the field at the same time. In the first half, Plumlee caught the same number of passes that he completed. This was vintage Kiffin and showed the Rebels have more than a few weapons under those powder blue uniforms. Corral ended up taking the majority of snaps and finished the game 22-31 for 395 yards and three TDs.
Wide receiver Elijah Moore was the most productive Rebel Saturday, gaining 227 yards receiving — about half of the team’s total of an impressive 443.
— The Rebel Walk (@TheRebelWalk) September 26, 2020
Wide receiver Dontario Drummond also played very well. The Laurel, Miss. product not only caught two touchdowns in the opening half for sixty yards, he completed his only pass of the game after making a great pump fake. His completion was for 45 yards to Jerrion Ealy and gave Drummond a passing rating of 478. Take that, Tom Brady.
Senior wide receiver Dontario Drummond has been a big early factor for Ole Miss.
Had a 45-yard pass on a trick play and now also has two first half touchdown catches.
— Matt Zenitz (@mzenitz) September 26, 2020
Tight end and Rutgers transfer Kenny Yeaboah announced himself in Oxford with five catches for 91 yards and a score. And in his 2020 debut, sophomore Ealy ran for team-high 79 yards, averaging nearly five yards per carry. Matt Corral was second on the ground with 50 net yards.
All told, five Rebels ran the ball Saturday and eight caught a pass.
In a Christmas tale as old as time, many kids frequently just want to play with the boxes their toys arrive in, rather than the toys, themselves.
That will NOT be the case with Kiffin and Lebby, and you can bet they’re going to be thinking outside the box.
Steve Barnes joins The Rebel Walk staff as a senior writer and brings a trifecta of journalistic experience. As a writer, he has covered college sports for Rivals.com, Football.com and SaturdayDownSouth.com as well as served as a beat writer for various traditional newspapers.
He has been a broadcaster for arena football and several national tournament events for the National Junior College Athletic Association as well as hosting various shows on radio.
A former sports information director at Albany (Ga.) State University and an assistant at Troy and West Florida, he has helped host many NCAA conference, regional and national events, including serving five years on the media committee of the NCAA Division II World Series.
Barnes, a native of Pensacola, Fla., attended Ole Miss in 1983-84, where his first journalism teacher was David Kellum. The duo has come a long way since that time.
He will bring a proven journalistic track record, along with a knack for finding the out-of-the-ordinary story angles to The Rebel Walk.
Barnes continues to reside in Pensacola a mere ten minutes from the beach because he does have taste and a brain.