Every now and then, when a program has been an absolute tire fire like Ole Miss has been for the past couple years, the goal is not to aspire to be great, or even good. The goal is to aspire to average. Gotta crawl before you can walk. Things are trending that way for the Rebels in 2019.
Ole Miss is fine. Their offense is fine. They are 2-3 with losses to two ranked teams, Cal and Bama, and one unranked team, Memphis. They have two wins over, one of SE Louisiana and one over Arkansas.
Statistically, they are 50th in the S&P rankings. They are 60th in total offense with 2,116 yards, 15 offensive touchdowns, 423 yards per game, and 5.52 yards per play. Their attack is fairly balanced in productivity with 1,123 yards through the air and 993 on the ground. Although they have run the ball 232 times to 151 passing attempts.
At QB1, a small battle has emerged as RS Freshman Matt Corral started the first four games of the season but did not start against Alabama due to injury. That left True Freshman John Rhys Plumlee to start against the then #2 team in the nation.
Head Coach Matt Luke and OC Rich Rodriguez aren’t going to name a starter prior to the Vanderbilt game because they feel it is to their advantage to keep the Commodores game planning for both.
Corral, in his four games, threw for 844 yards, averaged 7.4 yards per attempt at a 59% completion rate with four TD’s and one pick. Plumlee was 10-28 for 141 and two TD’s and a pick against Alabama.
However, the two TD’s came in the second half when Bama had a 30+ point lead, which when looking at competitive measures qualifies as garbage time. It’s not to say that Plumlee didn’t compete for those points, but they did not have a competitive effect on the game.
The Rebels have one WR they like targeting. Elijah Moore, the 5’9” 184lb WR out of Ft Lauderdale, FL, has 34 catches for 420 yards. He has already exceeded last year’s catch and yardage totals. Moore has 10 catches against SEC opponents for 170 yards.
On the ground, they are equally as effective with Scottie Phillips, carrying the rock. Phillips is a 5’8” 211lbs Senior who has 389 yards in four games, averaging 4.2 yards per carry with four TD’s. Phillips is Third Team Preseason All SEC and was named to the Doak Walker Watch List and the Maxwell Award Watch List.
With Rich Rod calling the plays, it’s worth noting that he utilizes multiple RBs and enjoys having a running QB. RB2, Jerrion Early has carried the ball 32 times for 197 yards and two TD’s this year. QB2 (potential QB1) Plumlee has 28 carries for 162 yards and a touchdown.
The Rebels offense has shown flashes. They have scored 40 and 31 points while also only scoring 10 and 20 in other games. Yet, since the first game where they scored only 10 points, they have averaged 30 points per game.
By this point in the year, teams should have figured out what works and what doesn’t. While Ole Miss’s offense isn’t good, it’s not bad, either. They are middle of the road in productivity and have some home run threats. Probably why they are 7.5 point road favorites.