Ole Miss football, Matt Corral beat Tennessee; The Robbery crowd gets ugly
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – For the second week in a row, Ole coach Miss Lane Kiffin needed her team to stop when time runs out. It is redone.
Quarterback Matt Corral ran 195 yards and passed 231 passing yards to carry the No.14 Miss Ole to a 31-26 victory over Tennessee on Saturday night. The Rebels (5-1, 2-1 SEC) kept Tennessee’s searing offense at their second-lowest points total of the season. The victory is Ole Miss’s first in Knoxville since 1983.
Corral was injured before a third and 10 at the end of the fourth quarter, forcing an incomplete pass from backup quarterback Luke Altmyer and giving Tennessee the ball down five points with 4:08 remaining after a punt .
While last week Ole Miss allowed Arkansas to come down the field and score a touchdown when time expired, this week’s Ole Miss defense recorded a sack and benefited from a Tennessee’s detention penalty for putting the Vols behind the sticks on a fourth and 24. Tennessee picked up 23 yards but couldn’t get the last yard to end the rally.
WEIRD END:Tennessee Vols football fans throw rubbish and debris on the field of Neyland Stadium late in game against Ole Miss
REPORT CARD:Ole Miss shows defensive growth, rides Matt Corral to beat Tennessee
After the failed Tennessee conversion, the game was delayed for 20 minutes because Tennessee fans littered Ole Miss’s field and sideline with debris. After the delay, Ole Miss had to punt and Tennessee came through the midfield. The Vols’ offense hit the 20-yard line with 11 seconds left.
Tennessee alternate quarterback Joe Milton, who was there after starter Hendon Hooker injured himself in the last practice, went out of bounds after the time limit expired to end the game.
Here are the Clarion Ledger takeaways from Saturday’s game.
Defense has come forward
In the SEC contests against Alabama and Arkansas, Ole Miss’s defense forced three punts. The Rebels forced Tennessee to kick five times in the first half.
Tennessee entered Saturday’s game averaging 284 rushing yards per SEC game. Ole Miss’s maligned run defense kept the Vols’ running backs 108 rushing yards without having to break through his 3-2-6 defense.
An active pass rush helped, as did a strong performance from senior linebacker Mark Robinson. But the most notable difference has been the return of senior safety Jake Springer, who has played for the first time since the start of the season. Springer made 11 tackles with a sack, ranging from plays in the box to plays on open court to plays on the perimeter around the line of scrimmage.
Receiver depth is an issue
Senior wide receiver Braylon Sanders fell in the first quarter with a lower body injury and did not return. With Sanders out and junior wide receiver Jonathan Mingo missing his third straight game, Corral had no good options to target.
Senior Donatrio Drummond made a few plays, but he also gained more attention without his fellow veterans to remove the cover. Senior wide receiver Jahcour Pearson tried to substitute but lost three assists, all of which would have provided long wins. Junior Dannis Jackson caught a long touchdown, but it happened more because of a false Corral pump than his own talents.
If Sanders is away for an extended period, Ole Miss will have to find answers on the perimeter. Because this offense becomes terribly one-dimensional without threats from the outside.
Can Matt Corral do it on his own?
Receiver depth is not the only issue. Caleb Warren is still injured and his left guard substitutes Jordan Rhodes and Cedric Melton have not impressed. Running backs Snoop Conner, Jerrion Ealy and Henry Parrish never really started on Saturday either.
Corral’s skill as a runner is no longer a surprise. But he accounted for 70% of Ole Miss’s rushing yards against UT, up from 20% in the first five games. He does a good job of avoiding the big hits, but the hits stack up. It’s a heavy workload for a gamer, especially when Ole Miss manages as many games as he does. How he handles this as the Rebels play six more games in six weeks will determine their success.
Penalty problems continue
Before Saturday, Ole Miss placed 129th out of 130 teams in penalties per game. These problems persisted against Thefts. Ole Miss has been flagged eight times for 56 yards. All the penalties accepted by Ole Miss came in violation.
Ole Miss wins in spite of herself. Playing close games like Saturday and winning one point over Arkansas while committing so many penalties is shocking. If the rebels can continue to scrape, more power for them. But it’s hard to imagine those penalties not coming back to bite them down the line.
Contact Nick Suss at 601-408-2674 or [email protected] Follow @nicksuss on Twitter.