After Win over Arkansas, Ole Miss QB Matt Corral Strengthens His Position Among Top Heisman Contenders
OXFORD, Miss. — It is safe to say Ole Miss quarterback Matt Corral’s name is right where it should be — at the top of the Heisman conversation.
The junior led the Rebels to a 52-51 win over then-No. 13 Arkansas Saturday and he was impressive in doing it. At the risk of distributing rat poison, here are five reasons Corral should be considered for college football’s highest honor.
Corral has the statistics analytic nerds love. He has completed 101-of-146 of his passes for nearly 1,500 yards in five games. He is averaging 299.4 yards per game and he has thrown 12 touchdowns and not surrendered an interception.
He has also run for 255 yards and scored eight times.
He currently sits at No. 2 in the country in Total QBR, an excellent metric for measuring QBs, and also ranks No. 1 in the SEC in the same category.
There is no doubt who the leader of this Rebel team is and he wears No. 2.
Corral is no longer the kid from California who was a wildcard that got into a fight in his first Egg Bowl. This young man takes accountability for his actions, inspires his teammates and leads by example. The way he ran the ball Saturday against Arkansas had to make the Rebels dig a little deeper to match the effort Corral displayed.
Alabama’s Bryce Young was considered a Heisman frontrunner with Corral until Saturday night. That is right, that previous sentence used the past tense.
In the Crimson Tide’s loss to Texas A&M, Young looked mortal completing just 28-of-48. He did throw three touchdowns but had a costly interception and his indecisiveness resulted in four sacks.
Yes, Corral lost to Young, but the Rebels’ signal caller did not play badly. In the 42-21 loss to then No. 1-Alabama, he completed 21-of-29 and scored a rushing touchdown against a superior defense. Young lost to a defense that could not stop Mississippi State.
THE HEISMAN MOMENT
Every winner of the trophy has had that one highlight that has been on countless television shows on an endless loop. Corral has more than a few to contribute.
So far, he has thrown touchdown passes of 68, 67, 50, 49, 45 and 40 yards.
His best two plays against Arkansas did not go for touchdowns. Corral threw a bomb to Braylon Sanders, who made a diving catch at the Razorbacks’ one-yard line. He also had a run where he bowled over an Arkansas defender that was negated by a holding penalty.
Heisman front runner pic.twitter.com/hL7eb1mjzn
— Fifth Quarter Ole Miss (@FQOleMiss) October 10, 2021
Corral is a player the media loves. He has turned into a quote machine and he has an infectious laugh. It also does not hurt that he is easy on the eyes. He is projected as a first-round draft pick next spring, but it is certain he will be a long-time spokesman for advertisers.
And a bonus reason:
As the Rebels keep winning, they will continue to get national exposure, which means Corral will continue to get national exposure.
Next week, Ole Miss plays at Tennessee which is getting better each week. There will also be games against Auburn, LSU, Texas A&M, a Hugh Freeze-led Liberty team — and Corral will have the national stage against Mississippi State on Thanksgiving night.
It also helps he is from Ventura, Calif., so the west coast Heisman voters are already are aware of him.
There is little doubt Corral should be atop the Heisman conversation. Although the season is not quite at the halfway point, about the only way for Corral to disappear from contention is for him to suddenly stop being himself.
(Feature image credit: Josh McCoy, Ole Miss)
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.