The spring sports shutdown due to the coronavirus pandemic was especially hard on programs bringing in new head coaches. Players start learning and practicing the new system during spring practice. Offensive players then typically continue to work on routes, timing and lining up properly during summer when they work with the strength coach and can hold player-run practices without the on-field coaching staff.

Lane Kiffin inherited an Ole Miss program with two talented quarterbacks. In 2019, true freshman John Rhys Plumlee logged eight starts while redshirt freshman Matt Corral started four games. Though Plumlee was the starter of last year’s Egg Bowl, Corral came in off the bench to lead a comeback that ultimately fell short. Plumlee led the team in rushing with 154 rushes for 1,023 yards and 12 touchdowns while Corral had the better passing stats (105-of-178, 1,362 yards, 6 TD, 3 INT).

Plumlee was with the Ole Miss baseball team at the time of the shutdown. If spring practice had proceeded as scheduled, the thought was Corral would have had an advantage. Kiffin now thinks neither quarterback has an advantage heading into practices.

“It certainly doesn’t help,” Kiffin said in a recent press conference. “We try to be positive, but you have to be factual also. That hurt us in evaluation. John Rhys Plumlee probably would’ve fallen behind I assume just off of baseball and the amount of time for us to evaluate and work with him and throwing the ball in the system. In that sense, it probably neutralized it in terms of those two with no one having an advantage.”

The NCAA is expected to soon approve a plan with a six-week calendar for when Ole Miss and other programs can begin to hold walk-throughs, meetings and practices ahead of Week 1.