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Rebels Get Glimpse at Offensive Future as Corral Sees First Extensive Action

It was a record-setting day for an Ole Miss offense looking to get back on track after a rough showing in a loss to LSU. The Rebels compiled 826 yards of offense — a school record — in a 70-14 rout over Louisiana-Monroe.

The offense scored touchdowns on its first nine drives of the game. Quarterback Jordan Ta’amu went 21-for-24 with 374 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. He also ran six times for 63 yards and two scores for a total of five touchdowns.

“Play consistent today, that was the charge by Matt Luke and that is what we got,” offensive coordinator Phil Longo said. “I thought we got off to a really good start. We made some really good decisions. That was the part we needed to change. It wasn’t athletically, it was mentally.”

The Warhawks were athletically inferior and could not match up with Ole Miss’ trio of wide receivers on the perimeter. A.J. Brown had seven catches for 125 yards and a score in the opening quarter. Damarkus Lodge also caught nine balls for 179 yards and touchdown to lead all receivers. D.K. Metcalf caught four balls for 115 yards and a score. The Rebels led 49-7 at the half.

“Everything was just much sharper,” Longo said. “Jordan was on the mark today. I was thrilled. I actually didn’t coach him much. There wasn’t much to tell him. He was running what we run and doing what we do. He was making great decisions.”

The game got out of hand quickly and Ta’amu’s services were only needed for a half, meaning the Rebels got a look into the future when freshman quarterback Matt Corral entered the game after halftime.

“We just wanted to drive the ball down the field and let the rest take care of itself,” Ta’amu said. “The first touchdown drive, I knew we had it.”

Corral completed all 10 passes he attempted. He threw a touchdown to fellow freshman Elijah Moore and broke a 61-yard run for a touchdown. It was the most extended action Corral has seen in his young career and he made the most of it.

“Matt has done a phenomenal job of preparing and Jordan has helped him,” Longo said. “Mentally, he made some really good decisions too. I was really pleased with both quarterbacks.”

Longo mentioned the contrasting styles and personalities of Corral and Ta’amu. Ta’amu is calm while Corral wears his emotions a bit more and his aggression is more evident.

“He is very aggressive minded as you saw today,” Longo said. “I thought it was important, if we ever have an opportunity this season, to see Matt Corral with the starters. We did that for a couple of series. Whether it is with the starters or not, the decision-making part is the same. That is the part I am most pleased with. He did a good job today and he is that aggressive in practice, so I think the way he played today was not a surprise to our football team.”

Corral threw a nice touch pass to D.K. Metcalf to the far sideline on his first drive and his first touchdown pass came by way of a swing pass that saw Scottie Phillips take it 11 yards into the end zone.

“You saw his ability to pull the ball and run as well as make decisions in the RPO game,” head coach Matt Luke said. “It was good to get him in there with the first team offense.”

Corral looked in rhythm with some of the younger guys he will be playing with for years to come. He threw passes to Moore and Miles Battle. Corral can participate in four games and still save a redshirt if that is what the staff wishes to do. This was the second game he’s played in and by far the most extensive and productive. It was a glimpse into Ole Miss’ offensive future.

Ta’amu had a message for the Corral before he entered the game.

“I told him that this is going to be his offense next year,” Ta’amu said. “This is your program. Continue to be patient and your time will come. I was super happy for him.”

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