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Ole Miss football 2019 preview: This is Matt Corral’s team but who will be the backup?

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Who is taking charge in the No. 2 spot?

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 06 ULM at Ole Miss Photo by Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Rich Rodriguez took this offensive coordinator position with a familiarity of the potential starter he was inheriting. Redshirt freshman Matt Corral played in just four games in 2018, securing his redshirt status, but the experience he gained in such a small time has prepared him somewhat for his role as starter this season.

Corral is clearly the leader literally and figuratively. And his success as quarterback in the Hot Rod offense will essentially dictate how 2019 goes for Matt Luke and the Rebels. If he takes charge of the offense, makes good decisions, and runs it efficiently, Ole Miss has a chance at taking care of business in the non-conference slate and winning a few SEC games. If he struggles to adapt to life as the “guy”, and makes mental and physical mistakes, I don’t see the Rebs doing so well.

Luckily for us, Matt is uber-talented, has NFL arm talent, and seems to have Rich Rod’s blessing as a more than competent signal caller. He spoke with Neal McCready of Rebel Grove about Corral and his development early on.

“One thing about Matt, he loves to play,” Rodriguez said. “He’s eager to learn. He makes a few mistakes. Sometimes I have to remember he hasn’t played a whole lot either. He’s a redshirt freshman. So there’s some of that experience he’s still got to get and he’s still learning a new system. He gets a little bit better every day and I’m really confident Matt could have a really good year for us.”

Rodriguez’s offense calls for reading coverage and making quick decisions. Corral is an aggressive guy and has all the swagger in the world. If he can learn to harness that competitiveness and Chad Kelly-esque arm talent, he and Rodriguez will make sweet offensive firepower music.

Now, what about his backup? Two freshmen have stepped up and seem to be battling for that role. Four-stars Grant Tisdale and John Rhys Plumlee bring a lot to the table in two different packages. Tisdale appears to be in the lead for now. He had the spring to get a leg up on Plumlee, graduating early, enrolling at Ole Miss in January, and beginning to make progress with Rodriguez in the quarterback room.

Rodriguez also talked with Chase Parham from Rebel Grove about his No. 2 spot and was awfully candid.

“Dent got banged up a little bit so it’s really John Rhys Plumlee and Grant Tisdale batting for that No. 2 spot,” Rodriguez said. “Grant was here in the spring so he’s ahead mentally, but John Rhys is a really good athlete and a very smart guy. Those two and Matt are splitting rotational reps with ones and twos with Matt mostly going with the ones, of course. It’s a good group to coach. I sometimes forget they are freshmen and it’s all new to them.”

Plumlee, albeit arriving in the summer, has used his supreme athleticism and play-making ability to carve out a role in the offense.

The way I see it, Tisdale will be the guy to run the offense if (LORD NO) Corral goes down. But, I honestly think Plumlee is going to play plenty in certain packages and situations. His skill set provides Rich Rod plenty of opportunities to utilize him in situations that may or may not call for a more mobile quarterback, getting to the edge for a zone read package, or say [gasp] a quarterback throwback play.

All in all, despite no college experience behind Corral, the future is bright at the position. Rodriguez will have two capable guys who provide a different style for 2020 and beyond and they will both be fun to watch battle it out once Matty Ice’s eligibility is up.

But, for now, the Corral Era has arrived and will begin next weekend.