After testing positive for COVID-19, Lane Kiffin was forced to stay in Oxford while his team opened the season against Louisville in Atlanta. But that didn’t hold the Rebels back at all.
Ole Miss had no problem putting up big numbers without their head coach, as they totaled 569 yards on offense.
Matt Corral had a terrific performance, throwing for 381 yards and one touchdown. Along with those numbers, he rushed for 55 yards and earned himself one rushing touchdown.
Corral didn’t run much last season, so having the ability to use his legs makes him a more versatile quarterback.
The receiving corps torched Louisville defenders all game long, with receiver Dontario Drummond leading the way with 9 catches for 177 yards and a touchdown.
Along with the passing game putting up big numbers, so did the run game. The Rebels rushed for 188 yards and 4 of their 5 touchdowns came from running plays.
Running back Snoop Conner contributed largely to the Rebels’ rushing attack. Conner ran for 60 yards and posted a pair of touchdowns, one of those coming off a truck move that put a Louisville defender on his back into the end zone.
Ole Miss never committed a turnover all game, which was a big point of emphasis heading into this game.
But, the biggest improvement came from the defensive side of the ball. It was quite noticeable how different this team was compared to last year in terms of defense.
The Rebels held Louisville to zero points in the first half, which was the first time they’ve shut out an opponent in the first half since 2016 against Georgia.
Many players had big roles in stopping Louisville’s offense, including linebacker Chance Campbell, who seemed to be all over Louisville’s quarterback Malik Cunningham.
Campbell, a transfer from Maryland, made it difficult for Cunningham to really operate his offense. Campbell had seven tackles, one being a tackle for loss, and constantly pressured when Cunningham dropped back to pass.
“He’s come in and been a good leader,” Kiffin said, talking about Campbell’s performance. “It’s been exciting to have a veteran come in there and step up and play really well.”
The Rebels’ defense also forced a couple turnovers, one being an interception by Deantre Prince, as well as a fumble by Louisville’s running back, Hassan Hall.
“It really is amazing what energy does,” Kiffin said when asked about how he’s feeling with COVID-19. “I completely forgot about it when the ball was kicked. I forgot that I was sick. I’m doing better.”
Kiffin mentioned that he’s scheduled to be back on the sideline for Saturday’s home opener against Austin Peay. Kickoff is set for 6:30 p.m.