We’re less than two days away from the Outback Bowl, and to help us get a better feel for what Ole Miss might look like on Saturday, we touched base with our friends at Red Cup Rebellion.
Thanks to Zach Berry for taking time to fill us in.
Going 4-5 against an all-SEC schedule in the first year of a new regime is nothing to scoff at. What are your initial thoughts on the Lane Kiffin era?
This staff accomplished everything they needed to do this season. They showed massive improvement on offense and that there are plenty of early playing time opportunities on defense. On top of that, they currently have a top-20 signing class after the early signing period. It’s about as good as it can get in a pandemic-abbreviated season sans a few head-scratchers.
This feels like it would have been an even more exciting head-to-head showdown about a month ago when both teams were at something closer to full strength. With receiver Elijah Moore and tight end Kenny Yeboah — both of them studs — opting out, and receiver Braylon Sanders and running back Jerrion Ealy reportedly iffy for this one, what might this Rebels offense actually look like?
Well, the one constant is Matt Corral. Despite playing in his third offense under his third coordinator in his third season, he has been tremendous. Sure, he’s had a few games that he would like to forget, but you have to remember the enormous amount of pressure he’s under to essentially score every single possession due to the defense’s “limitations”. It starts and ends with him, but be sure to have an eye on the backfield. Ealy is most likely not playing, but Snoop Conner is a bruiser with home run speed and true freshman Henry Parrish is the future.
Matt Corral has a fascinating stat line in that he’s been prolific — lot of yards, lot of touchdowns — but he’s also thrown 14 picks. And yet, weirdly, 13 of those came in three games. It adds up to what could be a fascinating matchup in this one, given that Indiana has been one of the best Power 5 teams at seizing takeaways this season. What’s the confidence level in Corral going into this one?
Without knowing him personally and just reading body language, I don’t think that affects Corral much, if at all. He’s a quarterback and the good ones have a short memory. He’s also highly competitive and plays with an edge. I look for him to want to come out and make a statement as he heads into his junior season with a ton of hype.
As interesting and compelling as the offense is … man, that defense. Woof. What are the issues there — Talent? Scheme? Tackling? Execution? All of the above?
It’s a mixed bag, but it’s mostly a lack of talent. There are maybe three dudes on that defense, give or take, that would start and/or see time on another SEC defense. There are some that have made the transition over from offense to help out in the secondary with the lack of quality depth over there and overall, there’s a lack of team speed. I had the opportunity to be down field level for the Egg Bowl against Mississippi State and it appeared that the players were in position more times than not, but they were just a step or two slow.
Short answer: recruiting is how you fix it
Which unheralded players should IU folks know about going into this weekend?
He’s not exactly unheralded, but he hasn’t done much this year so let’s go with it. John Rhys Plumlee became a household name in 2019 with his elite speed and big-play ability, but he’s been the backup to Corral all year. And now that Ealy, Moore, and Sanders are all out, the Rebels lack a true game-changer on offense. Look no further than Plumlee to potentially be a weapon on Saturday. I anticipate Kiffin and offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby to use him in a variety of ways.
How does this one play out (including score)?
I think the Hoosiers are going to play angry and have a chip on their shoulder after being snubbed by the College Football Playoff committee. Ole Miss is battling injuries, opt-outs, and their defense is a disaster. The offense should keep them in this one, but I expect Tuttle and the gang to put up big numbers in a track meet that is ultimately won by Tom Allen’s bunch.
Indiana 44, Ole Miss 38