Despite loss to No. 5 Florida, Ole Miss’ new-look offense shines

Published 4:52 pm Saturday, September 26, 2020

As time expired inside Vaught-Hemingway Stadium on Saturday, there was plenty for Ole Miss fans to be good about on one side of the ball.

The Rebels dropped their season opener to No. 5 Florida, 51-35, but the offense was on a near record-setting pace under new offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby.

Against a vauted Gator defense, the Rebels racked up 614 total yards of offense and five touchdowns.

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A preseason battle between quarterbacks Matt Corral and John Rhys Plumlee was seemingly settled by the first snap of the game. Corral got the start under center and commenced to have a career day.

While many felt Plumlee would get the nod over Corral, as fall camp progressed the California native slowly surpassed Plumlee and showed why Kiffin went solely with Corral from the second quarter on.

Corral completed 22 of 31 passes, throwing for 395 yards and three touchdowns. Both were career highs for Corral.

“Matt played really well, which was good because we had not played well in the passing game the last couple scrimmages,” said Ole Miss head coach Lane Kiffin. “We didn’t come close to this against our service team. So, it was great to see today against a team that usually people don’t do that to.”

Coming off the the end of the 2019, Elijah Moore said all summer and during fall camp that he was ready to turn the page  and move forward. Saturday was the start of that process and Moore nearly etched his name into the record book.

The junior had 10 receptions for 227 yards with the latter being good enough for the second-most receiving yards in a single game in program history. Moore was seven yards shy from setting a new record, which is currently held by A.J. Brown and his 233 yards against South Alabama in 2017.

When Kiffin came to Ole Miss he told Moore that he wanted to see the receiver break records on a weekly basis, if possible. With the season cut down to 10 conference-only games and losing four non-conference contests, it may tough but the goal is still there.

“I thought Elijah was really special from getting to look at film of him from last year,” Kiffin said. “When I first met him after watching (him on film), I said, ‘Hey, you’re going to have to work harder than anyone in the country because you’re going to shatter the record for most catches in a year.’ …He’s a special player.”

Plumlee did see some action at the start of the game. The sophomore completed his lone pass attempt for three yards and also rushed for four yards on four carries.

Kiffin and Lebby started with a steady mix of the two quarterbacks, including having Plumlee on the field as a receiver at different times with Corral under center. Plumlee did haul in one catch for six yards.

Receiver Dontario Drummond and transfer tight end Kenny Yeboah also had solid starts to their seasons. Drummond finished with two catches for 60 yards, both resulting in touchdowns. Yeboah made his presence felt in the beginning of the fourth quarter when he had his first touchdown catch as a Rebel. He finished with five catches for 90 yards and the one score.