I have no idea.
I’m assuming you just asked me what to expect from the Ole Miss offense in 2019. You didn’t? OK, well let me just assume you did or you will at some point.
I have no idea what’s in store for the Rebels/Landsharks offense after what’s been a fascinating offseason of turnover. In case you missed it, the following departures happened:
- Receivers A.J. Brown, D.K. Metcalf left for NFL Draft
- OL Greg Little left for NFL Draft
- OC Phil Longo left for UNC
- TE coach Maurice Harris left for Liberty
Keep in mind, that’s after losing quarterback Jordan Ta’amu and 4-year starting offensive lineman Javon Patterson.
So what did Matt Luke do in the last month in response to all of that? A lot:
- Hired Rich Rodriguez as offensive coordinator
- Signed 3 quarterbacks in 2019 class
- 4-star WR commit Jonathan Mingo sticks with Ole Miss
- 5-star RB Jerrion Ealy drops Ole Miss commitment, but signs with Rebels
That’s quite the shakeup, especially for an offense that finished in the top 30 in scoring last year. Ole Miss actually ranks dead last in FBS in percentage of returning offensive production. In other words, the turnover was imminent.
But after the moves that were made in the past 6 weeks, I really don’t know what to expect from the Ole Miss offense. It seems like it can go in a bunch of directions. Let’s speculate on what those could be.
That was pretty much going to be the case as soon as Rodriguez was hired. He said in his introductory press conference that he wanted to be multiple at the quarterback position. As in, he doesn’t want someone with limitations. We know that Rodriguez’s quarterbacks are traditionally mobile, run-heavy guys. Rodriguez is the same dude who benched 5-star recruit Ryan Mallett in favor of Tate Forcier at Michigan.
But Rodriguez is also the same dude who had Anu Solomon attempt more passes than any Power 5 quarterback in 2014 at Arizona. Multiple, Ole Miss can be.
That begs the question. Are we sure Matt Corral will be a RichRod guy? I’m not saying it can’t happen, but I’m saying I’m skeptical of the fact that Corral has 4 years of eligibility left and Ole Miss went out and signed its third quarterback of the 2019 class in former Georgia commit John Rhys Plumlee.
I think at the root of that is the desire for Rodriguez to have as much talent as possible — he’ll have 3 former 4-star quarterbacks with 4 years of eligibility apiece — to build his offense around. He won’t worry about hurting feelings. He’ll want to find the quarterback who can be a true dual threat. It’s worth noting that Plumlee and Grant Tisdale are the two “dual-threat quarterbacks” the Rebels just added.
If Rodriguez has total control over the offense, it’s going to be more run-heavy (Arizona still averaged 182 rushing yards during Solomon’s pass-heavy 2014 season). In Rodriguez’s last season at Arizona, Khalil Tate had nearly a 1-1 ratio of pass-to-run. The Wildcats actually ran the ball twice as much as they threw it. Even when Luke started using Ta’amu on more quarterback-designed runs, Ole Miss still threw the ball more than it ran it each of the past 2 seasons.
It’ll be interesting to see what Ole Miss looks like schematically because Luke and Rodriguez obviously run very different offenses. What seems all but certain is that the Rebels are going to try and run the ball more than they did last year.
Ole Miss returns possibly the SEC’s most underrated running back in Scottie Phillips. Add in Ealy and that’s suddenly a dangerous 1-2 bunch that could give Ole Miss a totally new offensive identity.
Then again, the elephant in the room is whether Ealy is going to leave for the MLB after he’s drafted this summer. If the 5-star tailback does go in the first round and decide to become an instant millionaire, the Ole Miss offenses loses a possible centerpiece.
Are we starting to get the picture now?
The Rebels have a ton of directions they can go with this new offense. The “Nasty Wide Outs” lost their 2 most reliable weapons and replaced them with 2 blue-chip recruits from Mississippi. For the first time in a while, there’s a major question about the starting quarterback. But need not worry because anyone and everyone will have a chance to win that job.
Oh, and Rodriguez, who hasn’t been an offensive coordinator in nearly 2 decades, is running the show. Or maybe Luke is. I don’t know.
What do I know about this Ole Miss offense now? I’m intrigued more now than I was a couple months ago.