Ever the leader, banged up QB Matt Corral never considered sitting out the Liberty game
OXFORD, Miss. – In the Bible, Samson could perform superhuman feats, but he would lose that ability if he cut his hair.
Ole Miss quarterback Matt Corral had his flowing locks cut last week before the Liberty game, but he was still able to perform heroically as he went 20-for-27 for 324 yards and one touchdown to enable the Rebels to leave Vaught-Hemingway Stadium with a 27-14 win over Liberty Saturday.
“I wanted to trim it, didn’t quite trim it — got it butched,” a smiling Corral said of his haircut.
“So, I just had to shave it off, and you know I used to get my head shaved as a little kid and my dad loves it. Every time as a kid if he could grab my hair – he’d put his hand on my head and if he could grab my hair, he’d shave it, so I’m used to it, so it doesn’t really bother me.”
Ole Miss QB Matt Corral on his haircut
Corral is a gamer who never considered sitting out Liberty game
One thing that did bother Corral was an ankle injury suffered two weeks ago in a win over Tennessee and again at Auburn last week.
After being hobbled with the injury for two weeks, not many could blame Corral for sitting out a few weeks especially considering he is projected to be a first-round pick in April’s NFL Draft.
Not many could blame him, but Corral was having no thoughts of putting himself on the sidelines. Not only for himself, but for the Rebels that will follow in his footsteps.
“I know there are people on this team that look up to me,” Corral said.
“There is a fine line of the position I’m in right now, of being hurt and being able to play. I just think it wasn’t one of those things where I needed to step back and not play this game. I didn’t think I needed to do that, and I didn’t want to set that example for the younger guys. I’m just playing football. I’m not injured, I’m just hurt, and I am playing through that. My teammates know that, and they know they got to help me out even more because I only have one leg; and, they definitely did that and I’m proud of them.
It is just because we are moving guys around, and a lot of moving parts. The center is playing right guard, right guard is playing center and just getting into rotations like that and it’s tough for them. It’s not their usual position, so those guys (o-line) definitely deserve something from me, and I’m going to get them dinner like I usually do. I’m proud of them.“
Dannis and John Rhys to the rescue
Corral is also proud of wide receivers Dannis Jackson and John Rhys Plumlee who stepped in for Jonathan Mingo and Dontario Drummond who were out with injuries and Braylon Sanders who was limited in what he could do at wide receiver and played only 23 snaps against the Flames.
Plumlee and Jackson caught 13 passes for 236 yards and a touchdown.
2 to 10 for a 32 yard gain.
20 RAC yards from JRP here pic.twitter.com/zAYAU5Zfs2
— TeeJay (@TJOxley1) November 6, 2021
Their performances caught the eye of Ole Miss head coach Lane Kiffin.
“It (Jackson’s 126 yards receiving) was huge,” Kiffin said. “Plumlee and him are probably the stories of the game offensively. Probably even more him because he had missed lot of opportunities, so for him to do that was huge. He had the one Tennessee and he was wide open and making competitive plays and those are what we have been waiting on him to do. You know he is very talented.”
What a catch by Dannis Jackson 😱
— SI College Football (@si_ncaafb) November 6, 2021
Jackson put up those numbers despite getting off to a slow start as he dropped a pass that would have been a huge gain for the Rebels in the first quarter.
No one on the Ole Miss sideline would let Jackson dwell on that one misplay, nor would he let himself.
“I mean (Matt Corral) did say keep my head up, you know play the next play. But that’s something that I put in my head myself to just go ahead and move on to the next play and not let the last one affect the rest of the game.“
WR Dannis Jackson on his game against Liberty
It did not affect his play the rest of the way and Corral continued to throw him the ball.
“I trust Dannis and he knows that,” Corral said. “So, I mean it’s just going out there and trusting himself He knows he has the ability.You know I preach that, and all those guys who may not seem as confident in themselves,” Corral explained.
“Dannis is going to be a great player very soon, and he knows he’s got it. It’s just going out there and doing it because we see it in practice all the time. He’s really comfortable out there. It’s just going out there and doing it he’s starting to really show flashes of what he can do.“
Matt Corral on Dannis Jackson
Even without Corral’s locks, a win over the No. 11 Aggies could lock up a New Year’s Six Bowl game for Ole Miss.
(Feature image credit: Dan Anderson, The 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.