For the first time this season, the Ole Miss Rebels put together a complete performance.
The Rebels beat Louisiana-Monroe by a score of 70-21. This brings an end to the non-conference schedule. All four of the wins on the schedule so far have come outside of the Southeastern Conference. The offense operated at its most efficient level thus far and broke some records along the way to the blowout win. The defense surrendered only 14 points and played well, considering the mounting injuries.
For the second time this season, Phil Longo’s offense tallied 70 points. For the first time in school history, the offense eclipsed 800 yards of total offense.
The offense clicked in a way that had not been seen this season. Jordan Ta’amu was finished after the first half, but his numbers are that of a complete 60-minute performance. His stat line reads 21 completions on 24 passes for 374 yards and three touchdowns in the air. He ran for another pair of scores in the first half.
The N.W.O. all went over 100 yards receiving for the game and all had a touchdown catch. DaMarkus Lodge ended a 97-yard, one minute and seven second drive at the end of the first half with a touchdown grab. He totaled 179 yards on nine catches. A.J. Brown equaled him in catches and gained 133 yards. D.K. Metcalf averaged 28.8 yards-per-catch and totaled 115 yards. Nine different players caught a pass on the day.
Running back Scottie Phillips added 74 yards on the ground, finding the end zone twice. He also was the recipient of true freshman quarterback Matt Corral’s first career touchdown pass; Phillips caught an 11-yard swing pass from Corral to score.
Corral saw his first extended period of game action of the season, playing the entire second half. His arm talent was on display on a 30-yard completion to D.K. Metcalf near the sideline. Corral placed the ball over Metcalf’s shoulder perfectly, showing he has touch to go along with the power in his right arm.
His impressive ability on the run was clear on Saturday afternoon. He made a defender miss a tackle on the sideline before scampering 61 yards to the end zone on a zone read play. The coaching staff plans to let Corral have full control of the offense instead of only handing the ball off.
“I was happy to get Matt Corral some quality snaps,” head coach Matt Luke said. “You saw [Corral’s] ability to pull it and run and make decisions in the RPO game.”
The defense clearly had its marquee performance of the season on Saturday. With a secondary that has had to absorb season-ending injuries to three starters, Luke had to flip running backs Tylan Knight and Armani Linton to the defensive side of the ball. At safety, Linton totaled six tackles, one and a half for loss. Knight finished with three tackles.
For two guys seeing their first defensive snaps of the season, nine tackles between the two is a win. Defensive coordinator Wesley McGriff had confidence in both of his converted running backs’ ability to step in and play well.
“Armani (Linton) has some time on task,” McGriff said. “He knows the scheme. It was good to see him come over and be in a plug-and-play situation. It was good to see Knight get over there and play a little bit. He has tremendous football DNA. He plays fast.”
With a full slate of SEC games remaining, Luke and the Rebels are in a good position to finish with a winning record in his first season as full-time head coach. Arkansas and Auburn await before the bye week.