Matt Corral was not at practice on Tuesday. The redshirt freshman is classified as day-to-day with bruised ribs, an ailment he suffered in the second half of Ole Miss’ loss to California on Saturday.
True freshman John Rhys Plumlee took reps with the first-team offense. Plumlee replaced Corral in the fourth quarter after Corral took a shot to the ribs. He went 7-of-7, helped finish off a 10-play scoring drive started by Corral and then marched Ole Miss down the field in the final two minutes, only to come up a yard short of a potential game-tying score as the time expired.
“I like (Plumlee),” senior tight end Octavious Cooley said. “It’s a lot different. Matt is the voice of our team. We just have to get Plumlee acquainted to what we do.”
Plumlee arrived on campus this summer and competed against fellow true freshman Grant Tisdale for the right tot back up Corral. Tisdale, a January enrollee who went through spring practice, was thought to be slightly head of Plumlee because of his increased amount of experience. Plumlee is a smaller, quicker quarterback whose skillset lends itself well to how Rich Rodriguez likes to use quarterbacks in the running game within the framework of his scheme. Rodriguez said after the game that Plumlee was inserted into the game when Corral exited primarily because Rodriguez wanted to call a designed quarterback run play.
The rest, of course, was history as Plumlee ignited an offense that had dipped into a second-half slumber and reinvigorated a restless crowd. Even if Corral is healthy, Rodriguez left the possibility open of playing both Corral and Plumlee against Alabama.
“Yeah, you could see any number of guys,” Rodriguez said on Monday. “It is a little different. I know some guys don’t practice their back-up quarterbacks a lot. Ours get a lot of reps. We are usually pretty even in distribution between the no. 1’s and no. 2’s. We are going to try to get three quarterbacks ready: Matt, John Rhys and Grant Tisdale.”
— Cooley talked about the difference in the two quarterbacks, playing in Bryant-Denny Stadium and the mindset of the team with a daunting challenge ahead.
— Safeties coach Charles Clark and cornerback Myles Hartsfield discussed some of the secondary’s struggles the last couple of weeks, how they plan to improve against a loaded Crimson Tide receiving corps and what the root cause is of some of the unit’s busted coverages.