Even after a loss, Lane Kiffin and Ole Miss’ offense are the talk of the college football world.
How could they not be? In his first-ever matchup versus his former boss in Nick Saban, Kiffin’s Rebels put up 48 points and 647 yards on No. 2 Alabama in a game that was much closer than the final score suggests.
After a 1-2 start, here’s what we know.
The offense is the real deal
Saying this feels surreal, but Ole Miss may just have the best offense in the country. In comparison to last year’s passing attack under Rich Rodriguez, which was No. 102 across all FBS teams, the current squad under Jeff Lebby statistically has the fourth-best passing offense in the NCAA, averaging north of 380 yards per game. Combine that with an impressive backfield that includes both Jerrion Ealy and Snoop Conner, and you have an offense averaging 573 yards and 42 points per game, good enough for second in the nation in total offense.
If only this was a full season…
If this was a full season, this new-look Ole Miss offense would be breaking individual records left and right. After three games, there are five players who really stick out on the stat sheet.
- QB Matt Corral: 1,221 total yards, 76.14 completion %, 9 TD
- WR Elijah Moore: 31 receptions, 462 yards, 1 TD
- TE Kenny Yeboah: 15 receptions, 355 yards, 4 TD
- RB Jerrion Ealy: 45 attempts, 243 yards, 4 TD
- RB Snoop Conner: 37 attempts, 179 yards, 4 TD
Okay, so imagine this was a world without COVID-19 and teams were playing a 12-game regular season. Beginning with Corral, the signal caller out of Cali would be on pace to break the program’s single-season records for passing yards, passing touchdowns, and total yards. Both Moore and Yeboah would be on pace to break A.J. Brown’s school record of 1,320 receiving yards, but what’s even more amazing is that Moore’s 154 yards per game, if that were to continue, would shatter the all-time NCAA record for most receiving yards (1,780 – LSU’s Ja’Marr Chase). Ealy and Conner would also have a chance to etch their names in the Ole Miss record books for most rushing touchdowns in a season (14).
Oh well. There’s no point in dwelling on the hypotheticals for too terribly long, but I would keep an eye out on that Brown record as Moore might just have a chance, even with the shortened season.
The defense may be the worst in the nation
Unfortunately for an offense that is scary good, Ole Miss’ defense is god-awful. Everything you need to know about this year’s Rebel defensive unit can be seen in this Twitter thread from The Ringer‘s Rodger Sherman.
Ole Miss’ defense prevented 41 total yards of offense tonight.
As in, on 11 drives, they allowed 9 touchdowns, forced a punt at the 40 and a fumble at the 1. If Alabama had gained every possible yard, they would have gained 764 yards, but instead they gained 723. Impossibly bad
— Rodger Sherman (@rodger) October 11, 2020
I fully understand that Alabama QB Mac Jones should be included in the Heisman conversation, but giving up 723 of 764 possible yards is simply embarrassing. Thus far, Ole Miss is allowing 641 yards and 52 points per game.
Saban still rules (for now)
Even though you just read probably the worst defensive statistic you’ll ever see, first-year head coach Lane Kiffin was nevertheless able to give Saban a true run for his money. After Saturday’s win, Saban is now 21-0 against his former assistants, however, it was apparent in Kiffin’s press conference that he came to Oxford not only to win but to win against his ex-employer.