In just 3 starts, QB John Rhys Plumlee already making a run at Ole Miss record book
Ole Miss fans didn’t know what to expect when its starting quarterback went down with a rib injury. Matt Corral had taken the bevy of the snaps at the position until the 4th game against California.
The opening game with Memphis notwithstanding, Corral had played well, considering the wide receiver position, outside of Elijah Moore, was essentially nonexistent. Some would argue, that continues to be a problem.
Trailing 28-13 late in the game, Corral was injured and freshman John Rhys Plumlee entered.
A star was born.
Ole Miss (3-4, 2-2 in SEC) continues to improve each week. While the record might not bear that out, the competition has improved as well. Ole Miss played well against one of the best teams in the SEC no one is talking about: Missouri. The Tigers will be a 10-win team, and if the NCAA reverses its postseason ban, could find their way to Atlanta.
Ole Miss was a few plays from making the game in Columbia this past Saturday very interesting. Notably, there was a brutal holding foul negated a rushing touchdown and an oh-so-close possible touchdown pass to Moore.
As for the offensive prowess, it can be attributed, in large part, to its new dynamic offensive weapon: Plumlee.
A look at the numbers
This was just the 3rd game Plumlee has been the main quarterback, yet the numbers he has provided are staggering. Sure, he came on late in the game against Cal, but the numbers amassed in just 3 games is something Rebels fans can look forward to for the remainder of his career.
Plumlee has rushed for 470 yards on 73 carries, which already is good enough for the most yards by an Ole Miss freshman quarterback in school history.
This is in 3 starts at the position. Let that sink in for a moment.
He is also the first Ole Miss quarterback in school history to rush for more than 100 yards in 3 consecutive games.
Want some perspective on consecutive 100-yard games? Scottie Phillips’ best streak is 2 consecutive games. Jordan Wilkins, who topped 1,000 yards in 2017, closed the season with a career-high 3 consecutive 100-yard games. Akeem Judd’s best streak was 2 consecutive games. Dexter McCluster had a 4-game 100-yard streak in 2009.
If you’re wondering about season records, he’s close to those as well. He needs just 75 yards to break Jeremiah Masoli’s single-season record of rushing yards by a QB.
(He needs just 33 yards to move past all-time legend Archie Manning on the single-season list.)
Assuming he stays healthy and keeps the job, by the time he leaves Oxford, Plumlee will be the all-time leading rusher as a quarterback. John Fourcade holds the mark at 1,301 yards. Norris Weese (1,211) is the only other Rebel QB to top 1,000 career yards.
As for the rest of the country, Plumlee is the first Power 5 quarterback to rush for over 100 yards in his first 3 starts since Denard Robinson of Michigan and Taylor Martinez of Nebraska when they both did so in 2010.
While he is young, Ole Miss fans are already enjoying the Mississippian leading the Rebel offense.
Both Plumlee and Corral work well together
By just looking at the stats along, the quarterback rotation worked well against Missouri. The passing numbers were comparable, both combining for a night of 18 completions on 33 attempts and 236 yards. Plumlee finished with 2 touchdown passes.
One noticeable aspect: Not only did the quarterbacks interchange possessions often, they interchanged during the possessions themselves.
Flipping them kept the Tigers’ defense off guard and maximized the talents of both of quarterbacks. Remember, Corral is not just a drop back passer. He rushed for 18 yards on 3 carries as well to compliment the 147-yard rushing night of Plumlee.
The biggest component of the QB shuffle is their relationship. Both can be seen collaborating on the sideline when the defense is on the field. When one of the other scores a touchdown? You can bet the counterpart will be the first on the field to congratulate him.
“If we believe it gives us the best chance to win the game, that’s what we’re going to do,” Luke said at his regular Monday press conference. “We have two great competitors who have really unique skill-sets. I was very impressed with how much they competed and also how they pulled for each other.”
If you are wondering how a 2 QB system can work, look no further than Ole Miss.
There is much more you can do with the offensive firepower
Plumlee is an athlete. He’s a center fielder in baseball. He could see himself in the NFL one day as a slot receiver or as an H back type of position, in my opinion. With that in mind, I would like to see Plumlee, freshman running back Jerrion Ealy and sophomore Snoop Conner on the field at the same time, with Corral under center.
You want your best playmakers on the field at the same time? Create opportunities for them to get the ball. Ealy hasn’t seen the ball as much with the emergence of Plumlee running the ball. Make the defense prepare for all angles.
Put your best players on the field at one time.
We have seen the wide receivers struggle for Ole Miss. Moore led all receivers against Mizzou with 8 catches for 102 yards. The closest Rebel in receiving was running back Scottie Phillips with 3 catches.
For the season, Moore leads the position with 44 catches for 562 yards. The closest receiver is freshman Jonathan Mingo with 9 catches.
I'd start Matt Corral at QB, John Rhys Plumlee and Jerrion Ealy at wide receiver and split both Scottie Phillips and Snoop Conner at RB. Plumlee would be interchangable.
1) The current wide receivers are adding nothing to the offense (see below)
2) Get your playmakers the ball pic.twitter.com/WA18xD8qmF
— Brad Logan (@BradLoganCOTE) October 16, 2019
It is time for Ole Miss offensive coordinator Rich Rodriguez to make some big changes on the wide receiver position. Adding both Plumlee and Ealy to the mix would be a nice start.