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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
Michael Howard - R-SR
Nick Broeker - FR
Royce Newman - R-JR
Jalen Cunningham - R-FR
Eli Johnson - R-JR
Bryce Ramsey - FR
Ben Brown - R-SO
Chandler Tuitt - R-JR
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.