QB Film Room: Matt Corral and the Rebels finish strong, poised for offensive dominance in 2021
Hungry for some Ole Miss football?
How do a couple of bowls of WINNING sound? On this Super Bowl Sunday, we’re offering a bonus look back at last season’s fantastic finish and what we can look forward to in 2021. Sound like fun?
Let’s get started with some key offensive pays from the Egg Bowl win and finish up with the Outback Bowl and a look ahead to 2021.
Egg Bowl Film Room
Early in the Egg Bowl, State is showing a three-man rush while dropping eight, a defense seen more this season by the Rebels than in any in recent memory. Five blocking three is a pretty good set-up for an offensive line, and QB Matt Corral takes full advantage of the extra time they provide.
Elijah Moore motions inside to the second-receiver spot and then runs a go-fade route that beats the 2-high safety (that’s a little weird sounding), while the split receiver to Elijah’s side runs a shorter out route.
Against Cover 2, the out route draws even a soft-playing cornerback up, leaving the area behind him a dime opportunity waiting to happen. We’ve seen time and time again that any safety who’s caught flat-footed while watching Elijah Moore approaching is toast in no time.
On 2nd and 16 from the State 48, the Rebels see Dimesville open its doors again, this time with a switch of routes from the prior featured play, again to the right side. Here, Elijah will draw the CB with an out route while Dontario Drummond beats the safety to the spot and to the ball on a Go route. A flick of the wrist by Matt and the Rebels are on the board.
Here’s the wide-angle replay of the previous play for a little better perspective. Very well executed.
Let’s take another visit to Dimesville, shall we?
The Bulldog defense brings four this time, but too few, too late. Once again, the Rebels are working the Out/Go combination to the right side, and State’s poor safety will fall victim to superior marksmanship and flashy receivership in surrendering the Rebels’ third touchdown of the half, this one to the streaking Sanders, who takes it to the house for an 81-yard completion.
Notice the couple of crow hops by Matt subconsciously eluding the outside pressure as he gears up to launch a pass that travels 65 yards in the air. Why’d he only throw it 65 yards, you ask? Because that’s where his receiver was going to be when the ball arrived. For a quarterback with a cannon, his only concern is beating the defender with the ball, regardless of the distance it travels.
I’m sorry, but this is just too easy.
Here we have a 2nd and 8 and the Rebels are in a double twins set (two WR’s) to each side. To Matt’s left he sees an uncovered Elijah Moore, meaning the closest defender is a safety a good 12 yards away. What’s even worse, State will blitz the cornerback and try to cover the WR with that safety, and cover Elijah with the other safety, from 20 yards away. How fundamentally sound is this defense? Well, not very.
Here’s a quarterback running play that’s well designed and executed. A lot of people read the handoff on this and as a former triple option quarterback in college, I can appreciate the effort. I also respect the fact that the coaches at Ole Miss don’t load their quarterbacks down and take up valuable practice time with the handoff reads when they obviously have so much more at their disposal.
Here, Matt and his RB make a great fake (no read) and get an excellent block on the would-be handoff key, the defensive end, by TE Kenny Yeboah. It serves as a halfback’s load block out of the wishbone, and is helped even further by an inside 70 stunt by the defender. Matt withdraws the ball and zips around end for the first down.
Here we are on the first possession of the second half, and we’re not needing directions to Dimesville at this stage of the game.
This time it’s Mano Mano to the wide side of the field and a single receiver. The Rebs have a tight end Trips (3 receivers) alignment to the short side, leaving somebody in Dimesville on an island. A little slant and go with a pump fake by the QB should be all that’s necessary for another big gainer as Matt drops another one right on Drummond.
Ok, it’s 4th and 2 and the Rebels are in double Twins with Elijah again UNCOVERED to the short side of the field. We’ll take it.
It doesn’t seem that Matt checks down very often to a back or a tight end, because he doesn’t. He’s the mad bomber type. Here, he’s getting some heat and can’t find a window he particularly likes, so he does drop it off, this time to Ealy for the first down.
Leading 24-21 now in the fourth, the Rebels line a bunched-up triple threat out wide to the wide side of the field, and it is game on. Pick your poison, Dawgs. We have receivers in the flat, a deep post and a corner route coming at ya.
Hmm, that corner route to Jonathan Mingo’s the ticket. Another excellent throw here by Matt Corral at a crucial time in the game.
It’s crunch time, 3rd and 7, let’s go double Twins and see if they leave Elijah uncovered to the short side of the field… and by gosh, they DO! Onward!
Here, a quick clip I’m slipping in from the LSU game as the Rebels take the lead on a nice lofted pass from Matt Corral to Braylon Sanders. It’s indicative of the 2020 season and all the exciting games on both sides of the ledger, and proof positive that 2021 will be another exciting season.
Outback Bowl Film Room
Let’s move our attention now to the Outback Bowl, where the underdog Rebels faced the No. 7 Hoosiers coached by former Ole Miss assistant, Tom Allen.
Here on the first play of the game against Indiana, Matt Corral sees the linebacker filling the gap as slot receiver Braylon Sanders runs a slant pattern into zone coverage and wide-open spaces. The pass is on the money for a nice gain.
Later in the opening drive, Ole Miss lines up in the tight end trips formation to the right for additional protection, and runs Drummond on a crossing pattern. Matt delivers just as Drummond finds a crease in the secondary.
The Hoosiers see the Tight End Trips formation again and decide to blitz the linebacker and strong safety, but TE Casey Kelly isn’t in there for pass protection. He releases on a quick seam route and sidesteps the other linebacker for a nice pickup.
As you watch this clip, you’ll see Matt Corral getting set to throw to a slot receiver to his left who’s running an option route. It turns out that it’s No. 10 John Rhys Plumlee on the receiving end of the throw, looking like an old pro at the receiver game.
This is one of the better designs and execution for the quarterback lead draw that you’ll ever see as the RB and LG show pass before attacking linebackers downfield. Matt makes a nifty move in the backfield to break away from a threat before streaking downfield.
This is the 18th play of the drive and trust me, not a single Wishbone play has been run. It is misdirection, however, as H-back Casey Kelly moves from the left side of the formation to the right, common for a kick-out block on a running play, then turns upfield instead. The defense sees the O-Line pushing left and bites just enough to leave Kelly totally uncovered for the Corral toss and score.
We have the two-minute offense going here (redundant, perhaps, with this offense) with a double slots formation. Both inside receivers are going deep with the outside receivers on shorter patterns. Matt does a good job here of back-pedaling out of the pocket away from pressure before finding Drummond for a good gain underneath the deep coverage.
Shades of Archie here as Matt Corral evades several would-be sackers to hit Jadon Jackson on a deep come-backer.
Here’s a route we don’t see that much of anymore, an old school out route with depth. It takes quite an arm and is considered one of the more dangerous routes to throw. Drummond does an excellent job of selling the post before his break and the football once again is right on time.
Tie game, 3rd and 4 in your own territory with 5 minutes to play. You’ve got man coverage up top on your two receivers and possibly a blitz coming. Will he come across the middle and make the catch in traffic? Hell Yeah, Damn Right he will. We’re talkin’ JRP here.
It’s 1st and 10 on the next play and you can see on the screen that Plumlee has had 4 catches for 28 yards. This play design hides Plumlee in a 2-back set with Twins up top.
Indiana “shows” pre-snap an 8-man drop but once again blitzes a linebacker and a nickel back. The slot receiver takes the safety inside and Plumlee finds himself running free on the seam route. The perfectly executed play gains 44 yards and a first down at the five.
And now with 2nd down on the three, Ole Miss does a little star crossing with motion, a flat route, a corner route and a stop route in the middle of it. The pattern is just far enough across the goal line to count as Corral hits Drummond for what everyone hopes is the winning touchdown — and it is.
Corral enters 2021 as highest-ranked returner in ESPN Total QBR
Matt Corral finished the 2020 season ranked No. 3 in ESPN’s Total QBR (89.9) behind the two quarterbacks who played for the national title, all-time leader Mac Jones (96.1) and runner-up Justin Fields (91.7).
Corral will return as the odds-on favorite to take the 2021 QBR crown, a crown which has accompanied many awards and team accomplishments for its former winners.
He and ASU junior Jayden Daniels (7th, 87.1) are the only Top 10 quarterbacks returning in Power 5 in 2021. With a strong stable of talented backs, receivers and almost the entire offensive line returning, Oxford will be the first place one looks for consistency and explosiveness offensively in the coming season.
It’s also worth noting that since 2010, 10 of the 11 national champions had QB’s who finished in the nation’s Top 8 of Total QBR. With a solid 2021 recruiting class that focused on defensive improvement and a returning offensive stable of weapons with Corral and company, Ole Miss is poised for what could be a very exciting 2021 season.