While the Rebels are clear favorites in Saturday’s matchup against New Mexico State, the question that has loomed over Ole Miss’s football program since Matt Corral’s injury against Cal still exists: Does Ole Miss have a capable quarterback?
For the last three matchups, Ole Miss has used a two-quarterback system with little success, totaling three straight losses. The losses were close against formidable programs like Missouri, Texas A&M and Auburn, but near-losses are just that: losses.
Additionally, the two-quarterback approach has become less and less effective. In their last two matchups, Ole Miss scored only 31 points combined. Before those two games, Ole Miss has averaged roughly 27 points per contest. There has clearly been a breakdown in offensive efficiency.
Rarely does a two-quarterback system succeed. Teams that implement it can become predictable.
However, it is not impossible for this type of plan to work. The New Orleans Saints use Drew Brees as the primary quarterback while Taysom Hill serves as a flexible option.
Hill serves as a receiver, running back and quarterback in multiple short-yardage packages, keeping opposing teams off their balance, but Brees is the primary passer who takes most of the snaps.
Another example is Tim Tebow for Florida in 2006. Tebow served as a situational running threat in place of Chris Leak at times, forcing the defense to worry about both a quarterback run and downfield pass.
Comparing these two situations with Ole Miss, the larger running threat, John Rhys Plumlee, takes more snaps while Matt Corral fills in for more passing situations.
The Rebels’ style is reversed from the Saints and 2006 Florida. This could take the primary passer out of his rhythm.
The quick fix would be to switch the roles, having Plumlee be the more flexible secondary option with Corral taking a leading role, but Plumlee’s insertion created some semblance of a spark. One of Plumlee’s largest reasons for committing to Ole Miss was his desire to gain plenty of experience as a traditional quarterback, and relegating his duties to a situational runner or receiver might cause problems.
Matt Luke and his staff will likely stay with Plumlee, especially given the competition Ole Miss will play Saturday. New Mexico State is winless. The spread favors Ole Miss by 28.5 points.
As this season ends and the next one approaches, the quarterback controversy in the Ole Miss camp might still subsist. Robby Ashford, a four-star recruit from Hoover High School in Alabama, is verbally committed to Ole Miss.
Ashford is the No. 7 dual-threat quarterback in the nation and, like Plumlee, will be playing baseball for the Rebels as well.
“They’ve got the perfect plan set up for me to play both sports,” Ashford said. “I love Ole Miss. I’m not entertaining anyone else, I’m not taking visits anywhere else, I’m 100% there.”
As this news is obviously excellent for the program, the collection of talent at the quarterback position might complicate the situation even more.