Odds are you took a hard pass on Grove Bowl 2019, but just because you didn’t watch, doesn’t mean it wasn’t played. The scrimmage on steroids went ahead as scheduled, with the defense prevailing in the world of modified scoring, 29-25.
Because I value your time and not my own, I picked through the historical footage and found a few things worthy of documentation in this space and in the back of your mind. Granted, that is an extremely loose interpretation of “worthy of documentation”, but I would also remind you it’s April and the baseball content train only has so many cars.
It’s also important to remember that, as Ole Miss fans were warned, the proceedings would be intentionally vanilla (RIGHT IN MATT LUKE’S WHEELHOUSE). New offensive coordinator Rich Rodriguez and new defensive coordinator Mike MacIntyre cared not for revealing a lot of what they would be scheming up in the fall.
As a result, the defense, while showing off the shiny new 3-4 look, did very little other than stay generic. The offense lite did show a few concepts it might use in the coming months, which is where we shall focus our attention.
We kick things off with a shot of the Ole Miss faithful gathered to see what the answer would be to the biggest question of the spring: What color would Matt Luke’s shacket be?
Powder blue pays out at 3:2 odds!
If you recall last season, and your emotional rage scars will certainly let you, Ole Miss had - AHEM - “issues converting red zone scoring opportunities into touchdowns” if you will. Early in the scrimmage, the offense was confronted with those demons.
As you can see, there are eight defenders in the box, with only six offensive blockers. Based a lot of bad reads in 2018, we know any option in this scenario that ends with the ball in the running back’s hands is not going to work.
Let’s see how they do with Red Zone Scoring Opportunity 1:
Disappointing field goal attempt: ENGAGED.
One concept we did see was Mills, which was developed by the Head Ball Coach (see: Darth Visor, Steve Spurrier) when he was at Florida. In Mills, the inside receiver runs a dig/crossing route to attract the attention of the safety, and the receiver immediately outside of him runs a post over the top into the open space.
The result of this play was Tylan Knight doing just that.
You may recall a more famous usage of this concept in a game against Alabama that did not happen. Related, pls erase this, Internet Moderators.
The long pass to Knight eventually led to Red Zone Scoring Opportunity 2. Once again, eight defenders for six offensive players to block.
Having learned his lesson earlier, quarterback Matt Corral pulled the ball and looked to throw. Let’s assess the outcome of Red Zone Scoring Opportunity 2:
If you’re scoring at home, that’s two opportunities, no touchdowns, and three points. SEAMLESS TRANSITION IMO.
A second concept we caught a glimpse of is a version of the Air Raid staple Y Cross in which a slot receiver (or TE) runs a deep crossing route.
I can’t quite tell what zone defensive coverage the Ole Miss defense is in, but once Tylan Knight (AGAIN) clears the linebackers dropping, he finds some space in front of a safety.
You would not be shocked to learn that drive ended in something called a “short field goal attempt”, whatever that is, I’m not qui- ah yes.
The Red Cup accounting department informs me the tally is now four red zone scoring opportunities, no touchdowns, and six points. For disputes related to these calculations, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
A few minutes later, Red Zone Scoring Opportunity 4 presented itself. The Ole Miss offense ran a pair of out routes, with the outside receiver setting a pick that is definitely not a pick, before bailing into an out route. Let’s see how that worked out.
Never mind the inside defensive back blew coverage, TOUCHDOWN ON THE BOARD TO PROVE TOUCHDOWNS ARE NOT UNPOSSIBLE IN THE RED ZONE.
Last season, there were many complaints, nay, eye-blood-vessel-rupturing shrieks about Ole Miss’ lack of either attacking the interior of the field or failure to see it. On Saturday, Rodriguez showed the folks out there a little double stick action, with Elijah Moore and Octavious Cooley operating in the slot.
Cooley broke a tackle and turned a solid five-yard gain on first down in to a 20-yard gain. AGAIN, PLS.
In the second half, when ESPN was dying a thousand deaths and looking for any kind of interesting content, look who stopped by:
SIP SIP SIP SIPPIN’ SIPPIN’ SIPPIN’
Almost as importantly as Kermit enjoying that tea, Ole Miss involved Tylan Knight in a third passing concept out of the slot. The offense ran a Smash concept in which the outside receiver runs a hitch and the slot receiver runs a corner route in front of the safety.
I have no idea if Tylan Knight can carry this over against real competition, but it says something about him that Rich Rodriguez believes he can be a downfield threat from the slot in at least three different concepts. Maybe it’s more about Ole Miss not having a vertical threat at the receiver position, and LOOK INTO THE SMOKE AND MIRRORS, OPPOSING DEFENSES, but one would think this could be a legitimate option in 2019.
Finally, if you missed it, this is how Grove Bowl 2019 ended:
If you’re confused, the offense was going for two, which would’ve meant the game ended in a tie (pretty on-brand for Ole Miss), but instead, the defense ran the two-point play back for a four-point win, covering that imaginary -3 spread and achieving GALAXY BRAIN ON-BRAND FOR OLE MISS.
With that, here are your 2019 Grove Bowl MPVs, who came off the opposite sideline to escort Kam White to the end zone.