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Corral and offense shine despite Rebels’ season-opening loss to Gators

Corral and offense shine despite Rebels’ season-opening loss to Gators

Corral and offense shine in Ole Miss’ season-opening loss to Gators

OXFORD, Miss. — The Ole Miss season-opener against No. 5 Florida was not without offense, as the Lane Kiffin era began at Vaught-Hemingway with a 51-35 loss to the Gators. Matt Corral was named the starter at quarterback this morning and wasted no time getting into his groove, steering the ship for the majority of the day and leading the Rebels to 35 points and over 600 yards of offense.

John Rhys Plumlee took a handful of snaps as QB but only carried the ball four times and threw just one pass.

Corral was very sharp today, throwing for 395 yards, three touchdowns, and one interception that came off a whacky deflection at the line of scrimmage. Five different Rebels added 170 yards on the ground and two scores.

Click here for box score. 

The story of the day was the offense for both teams — and the lack of defense. Florida and Ole Miss combined for 1,255 yards from scrimmage and 86 points. And despite the 16-point margin of victory, the Rebels were near Florida in almost every major statistical category. The similarities were there, but the number that made the most glaring difference today was Florida’s 100% efficiency (5-5) in the red zone.

The Rebels on the other hand, were 4-8 in the red zone.

Individual Efforts

With 1,255 yards of offense on the board, there were many players who shined in today’s opener. Leading the way was the Gator quarterback Kyle Trask and his main target, tight end Kyle Pitts. Trask threw for 416 yards and six touchdowns. Pitts caught eight of those passes for 170 yards and four touchdowns.

For the Rebels, the effort was a bit more spread around. Corral’s main target was wide receiver Elijah Moore, who caught 10 passes for 227 yards. That being said, Dontario Drummond seemed to be the breakout guy in the first half, as he caught two touchdown passes and completed a 45-yard pass too.

Grad transfer tight end Kenny Yeboah had himself a nice day as well, catching 5 passes for 91 yards and a touchdown. It took him until the fourth quarter to catch his first pass, but once he did, he was on–making all five grabs in just two drives.

Jerrion Ealy led the way for all rushers today, piling up 79 yards and one touchdown on 16 carries. Despite never breaking off one of his signature long runs, Ealy still averaged 4.9 yards per carry. He ran the ball hard, mixing in his breakaway speed and ability to lower his shoulder through the line. Corral added 50 yards on the ground as well, scrambling for a few first downs and extending plays.

Going Forward

Despite the two-touchdown loss, today was a positive sign to me, going forward. Last year, the biggest knock on Ole Miss’ offense was its predictability. Today, the Rebels threw 33 times and ran 45. Kiffin’s offense clearly worked, as the Rebels put together an offensive game that we haven’t seen in years.

Corral was comfortable and sharp, Ealy ran the ball very well, Elijah Moore hasn’t missed a beat, and Dontario Drummond was a nice surprise. Simply put, the offense clearly has a lot more strengths than they do weaknesses.

The defense, on the other hand, is an issue. The pass rush was ineffective and inconsistent, the secondary got picked apart, and for the majority of the day, Florida moved the ball at will. There were a few bright spots, including AJ Finley’s interception, but, overall, the defense was weak at best.

Linebacker Jacquez Jones met with media after the game and, as leaders do, took responsibility and said the defense will improve.

We’ve seen Ole Miss teams before that are built around outscoring their opponents, and after today I’m inclined to believe that this team could be similar.

To me, today was a good glimpse into what the future of Lane Kiffin’s Rebels could be. He’s always been known for his offenses, and today he just proved that further. Going into next week though, the spotlight is going to be on defensive coordinators DJ Durkin and Chris Partridge.

The Rebels are back in action next week in Lexington, as they face off with the #23 Kentucky Wildcats at 3pm.

Hotty Toddy!

 

About The Author

Jake Evans

Jake, a 2021 graduate of Ole Miss with a degree in Integrated Marketing and Communications, is from Nashville, TN. Along with his work at The Rebel Walk, Jake hosts "The Flagship Football Show" podcast. He's also a huge fan of the Rebels, Titans, Predators, and Braves.

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