Two of the Nation’s Best: California QBs Matt Corral, Bryce Young set to renew their rivalry in Tuscaloosa
OXFORD, Miss. — It might be the biggest game of the regular season for Alabama and Ole Miss when the pair reconvene their rivalry Saturday at Bryant-Denny Stadium.
Yet the leaders of both offenses grew up watching USC-UCLA.
Alabama’s Bryce Young and Matt Corral of the Rebels were both raised in southern California before migrating to the Southeastern Conference.
Corral is from Ventura, while Young hails from just 71 miles away in Pasadena. They will be much closer Saturday when they share the gridiron. But it is not the first time the duo has faced one another in a game. The two met when Young’s Mater Dei Monarchs beat Long Beach Poly High School led by Corral.
“We knew each other, we were cool with each other,” Corral said of Young.
“I played him once when I was at Long Beach and he was at Mater Dei – they killed us. Mater Dei is ridiculous, but I mean so is Alabama. It’s going to be a great team to go against and it’s going to be fun playing against him for sure.”
Matt Corral on playing Bryce Young
The pair have comparable statistics this season, Young’s first as a starter and Corral’s second in the Lane Kiffin/Jeff Lebby offense.
Through four games, Young has completed 88-of-122 passes for 1,124 yards, 15 touchdowns and one interception. In Corral’s three games, he is 66-of-96 for 997 yards, nine scores and no picks. Corral averages 332 yards per game through the air and Young 281, while Young’s passing efficiency rating is 188.46 and Corral’s is 186.93.
Perhaps the only difference between the two is what they’ve scored with their legs. Corral leads the Rebels with five rushing touchdowns, while Young has yet to notch a touchdown on the ground.
Still one has to wonder how these quarterbacks – along with Georgia’s J.T. Daniels, who is also from southern California – ended up in Dixie.
For Young, he saw a chance to go against the best competition each week.
“This (the SEC) was a place where I was able to compete against the best in practice. And being in the SEC being able to compete against the best (opponents) week by week.”
Bryce Young on playing in the SEC
Their respective high school careers were as impressive as they have been in 2021.
As a junior, Young led Mater Dei to a California state championship and accounted for 78 touchdowns in his high school career. As a senior, he was considered the top dual-threat quarterback in the nation by most outlets after throwing for 4,528 yards and 58 touchdowns.
During his career at Long Beach Poly and Oaks Christian, Corral accounted for more than 11,000 yards and 123 touchdowns for the Jackrabbits and Lions.
But that was high school.
This week, Corral and Young will be playing in the sold-out, raucous atmosphere of Bryant-Denny Stadium. Corral looks forward to the experience even though the Rebel fans will be highly outnumbered.
“I love when the crowds are crazy. I love that regardless of if its ours or not ours. Just having that energy, I love it. That’s college football. That’s not why I play but it’s a big plus. I love it.”
Matt Corral on playing in front of a big crowd
Both quarterbacks agree that preparation will be the key to winning the game. In fact, Young almost had to be reminded that Corral is the quarterback at Ole Miss.
“I’m definitely more focused on the defensive end (of the opponent),” Young said. “I’m really just watching defensive film and focusing on what we have to do offensively. That’s really how I approach it, that’s kind of an external factor that you really can’t control as far as what the other offense runs or who’s on the other side offensively, so for me all I’m really looking at is their defense and we know we have to have a really good week of practice, we have to prepare really hard.”
When the game is over for these two, one will continue California dreaming, while the other might start planning for an endless summer.
Ole Miss and the Crimson Tide kickoff at 2:30 p.m. The game will be telecast on CBS.
(Corral feature image courtesy Josh McCoy, Ole Miss; Graphic: Nick Filipich, Rebel Walk)
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.