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Ole Miss Rebels Offensive Preview

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Utilizing a young, talented kid from a desolate area and pairing him with a seasoned and talented, but troubled, offensive pilot, the Rebels have formed an alliance that is well-equipped and dangerous to a defensive juggernaut with a major weakness.

NCAA Football: Vanderbilt at Mississippi
Hugs!
Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports

Breaking down Ole Miss offensively at this point in the season is a bit of a fruitless task. Matt Corral started the season as QB1, but struggled to find any consistency or success in offensive coordinator Rich Rodriguez’s system. If you remember RichRod from his West Virginia and Arizona days — yes, we’re ignoring Michigan for the moment — you can probably conjure images of smaller quarterbacks and running backs running the zone read from the shotgun. You can recall them RPO-ing defenses to death in a warp-drive option-inspired attack that kept defenses guessing and gassed. Corral was a great passer but couldn’t make much noise on the ground: enter John Rhys Plumlee, 2019’s 7th-best dual-threat quarterback. Plumlee started seeing action in the loss to California, a game in which the offense performed above the 70th-percentile for the first time all season. They followed it up with a 93% showing against Alabama (of all teams...) where Plumlee ran a whopping 24 times for 114 yards. The Rebels are definitely grooving in the way RichRod wants them to, but there are obvious weaknesses that the Tigers are going to need to exploit to keep a young offense grounded.

NCAA Football: Vanderbilt at Mississippi
John Rhys Plumlee
Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports

Quarterback

John Rhys Plumlee - FR: 27-53 (50.9%)/322 yards/2 TDs/1 INT/11.9 ypc/5.3 ypa

Matt Corral - R-FR: 68-114 (59.6%)/844 yards/4 TDs/1 INT/12.4 ypc/6.2 ypa

Running Back

Scottie Phillips - SR: 103 rushes/451 yards/4.4 ypc/5 TDs/4.78 HLT/38.8% OPP/43.7% success

Jerrion Ealy - FR: 36 rushes/294 yards/8.2 ypc/3 TDs/14.01 HLT/41.7% OPP/27.8% success

The stat: rushing success rate

Against FBS teams, Ole Miss has a rushing success rate of over 40% in every win. If they can’t get the run going, they’re still going to run, but also be forced to pass more (which, as you’ll see, is their kryptonite). Plumlee is essentially a running back who throws it occasionally, and despite only starting two games, is already the second-leading rusher on the team. Keeping him hemmed in and limiting the damage from senior running back Scottie Phillips will bode well for any chance at pulling away in this game.

NCAA Football: Arkansas at Mississippi
THIS IS WHAT ELIJAH MOORE LOOKS LIKE. JUST STOP HIM AND WE’LL BE COOL AND GOOD
Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

Wide Receiver

Jonathan Mingo - FR: 16 targets/9 catches (56.3%)/144 yards/1 TD/16 ypc/9 ypt

Braylon Sanders - JR: 6 targets/5 catches (83.3%)/73 yards/0 TDs/14.6 ypc/12.2 ypt

Wide Receiver

Elijah Moore - SO: 55 targets/36 catches (65.5%)/460 yards/3 TDs/12.8 ypc/8.4 ypt

Tylan Knight - SO: 6 targets/2 catches (33.3%)/19 yards/0 TDs/9.5 ypc/3.2 ypt

Slot Receiver

Dontario Drummond - JR: 18 targets/7 catches (38.9%)/91 yards/0 TDs/13 ypc/5.1 ypt

Demarcus Gregory - FR: 11 targets/4 catches (36.4%)/87 yards/0 TDs/21.8 ypc/7.9 ypt

Tight End

Jason Pellerin - SR: 11 targets/8 catches (72.7%)/73 yards/1 TD/9.1 ypc/6.6 ypt

Octavious Cooley - SR: 11 targets/7 catches (63.6%)/65 yards/0 TDs/9.3 ypc/5.9 ypt

The stat: ....basically just stop Elijah Moore

If the Rebels take to the air to open up the ground game, there’s a 33% chance it’s going to one guy: Elijah Moore. He literally is the intended target of 33% of all passes this season, more targets than the next FOUR most-targeted-receivers COMBINED. His 65% catch rate is solid, especially for such a high-usage receiver, and his 49% success rate means that he finds a way to get the yards needed, either via route design or by eluding tacklers. Ole Miss will sprinkle in a few targets to the tight ends to break up the obvious game plan, but the real threat is Moore. I’m not saying another receiver can’t have a career day against the Tiger secondary, but nearly half-way through the season Ole Miss has proven to be one-dimensional in the pass game.

NCAA Football: California at Mississippi
Michael Howard (#52) and Royce Newman (#72)
Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

Left Tackle

Michael Howard - R-SR

Nick Broeker - FR

Left Guard

Royce Newman - R-JR

Jalen Cunningham - R-FR

Center

Eli Johnson - R-JR

Bryce Ramsey - FR

Right Guard

Ben Brown - R-SO

Chandler Tuitt - R-JR

Right Tackle

Alex Givens - R-SR

Bryce Matthews - R-JR

The stat: explosive plays

“Jeez, Nate, how many times are you going to cite explosive plays as a key stat?” Well, dear reader, as long as it is a strength of our opponent and the single flaw the Tiger defense has, I will continue to do so. We all saw what happens when the defense is out of position and misses tackles, and now that the Tigers’ top tackler is out for the year, Mizzou will be relying on a new face to get the defense in line and make a play on every snap. Ole Miss, by the way, specializes in explosive plays: 42nd in overall explosiveness, 4th in rushing explosiveness, 28th in explosive plays on standard downs. That’s good because the Rebel offensive line is less than stellar: 73rd in power success rate, 99th in stuff rate, 102nd in line yards per carry, 100th in sack rate. The Missouri defensive line needs to feast to keep pressure off of Cale Garrett’s replacement, and so far this season, the Rebel offensive line is a buffet of havoc opportunities.