If you have two quarterbacks, you have none.
That adage rang true Ole Miss on Saturday night as its bowl hopes virtually evaporated in a 24-17 loss to Texas A&M. Ole Miss struggled figuring out which quarterback, John Rhys Plumlee or Matt Corral, gave them the best chance to win on a night where the offense as a whole looked lost from the beginning.
Much like last week against Missouri, the Rebels rotated signal callers numerous times on a given drive, but with worse results than they saw against the Tigers. The offensive play calling got stale and predictable, which was what the quarterback rotation was supposed to guard against. Instead, the Rebel offense looked confused and couldn’t find a rhythm for most of the night.
What this loss represents is likely much worse than just a number in the record books. If Ole Miss wanted to reach a bowl game at season’s end, it likely needed a win over either Missouri or Texas A&M. It got neither.
Now, while the Rebels still have winnable games on the schedule in New Mexico State and Mississippi State, they have to face nationally-ranked Auburn and LSU as well, still needing three more wins to reach bowl eligibility, a feat that, on paper, seems nearly impossible.
It was a fun ride seeing the explosiveness of Plumlee take the field in a starting role each week, but it’s obvious that in order to win, Ole Miss has to be able to pass the ball with more efficiency, and Corral provides that.
If the Rebels plan to play both quarterbacks moving forward, situational play calling has to be better and less predictable for the system to benefit and not hamper the offense. A two-quarterback system can work for the Rebels if used properly, but teams from this point forward will be better prepared for it, as the Aggies were on Saturday.
It may be too little too late, but the Rebels need to finish the year with at least five wins in order to have momentum heading into the 2020 season. This is a young team in Oxford, and the future is certainly brighter than in the recent past, but finishing the season worse than 5-7 is a quick way to lose the fans still holding on.
What pains Rebel fans after this loss isn’t just the unlikelihood of bowl eligibility this season, but the fact that this game, along with others this season, was winnable. Ole Miss had plentiful opportunities to extend its lead in both halves but failed to do so, giving the Aggies a window to come back and claim the win. If Ole Miss had taken advantage of these opportunities, we could be discussing a different story instead of a demoralizing loss.
The Rebels head into a bye week before traveling to No. 9 Auburn on Nov. 2, leaving a sour taste in the mouths of the Rebel faithful for a couple of weeks. Barring some unforeseen circumstances, that may persist until the end of the season.