When Elijah Moore is discussed on television and among the people, including the losers and haters, of which there are many, the first thing mentioned is that he’s Ole Miss’ leading receiver, followed by talk of the fake dog pee celebration that changed the football program for the better.
Moore, who is on pace to break the school’s single-season and career receptions records, sits at 31 catches for 462 yards through three games. The closest totals to him are Kenny Yeboah’s 15 receptions for 355 yards. In fact, if you combined Yeboah’s catches to those of Jonathan Mingo, Dontario Drummond, and Jerrion Ealy, you would surpass Moore’s total by one.
While we could continue singing Moore’s praises, due to time constraints, we must move ahead in the program to the part where we discuss Lane Kiffin and Jeff Lebby using their best receiver in ways that put other players in positions to succeed. Moore doesn’t get the hockey assist for setting up other players, but his presence is a big part of that happening.
Let’s take a look at few instances from the Alabama game where Moore made a difference without touching the ball, both in the running and passing game.
We begin with Ole Miss’ first possession of the second half. After Snoop Conner picks up a first down at the Ole Miss 32, Decoy Moore is deployed.
Here’s the look pre-snap:
Moore is in the slot to the near side of the field, and Yeboah is in the same position on the far side of the field. Yeboah, who is the primary target, is going to run a crossing route, while Moore acts as if he’s a part of a bubble screen, with Mingo blocking on the outside.
Once the ball is snapped, Matt Corral fakes a handoff to Conner, which has the Alabama linebackers’ attention. Moore, running his fake bubble, attracts the attention of two Alabama defensive backs.
After faking to Conner, Corral looks directly at Moore, which causes some shifting among the linebackers and defensive backs.
As you can see, Alabama is keying on Moore (probably a good call though) and in their haste to shut him down, they’ve opened a lot of space for Yeboah. When Corral turns from Moore to Yeboah, he has, as the people in the biz like to say, quite a window to throw into.
The Alabama defenders have taken enough steps in the wrong direction that this is at least an easy first down for Ole Miss, assuming the lone Crimson Tide safety between Yeboah and the end zone tackles him. OR, he could whiff on undercutting the pass and wipe out the only other defender who had a shot at tackling Yeboah from behind, leading to a 68-yard touchdown pass.
So Nice We Run It Thrice
As I mentioned in this week’s highly acclaimed edition of Train Talk, Ole Miss’ offensive success shook Alabama so badly that they fell back on the idea that their defensive signals were stolen. Here’s part of a drive that showcased Ole Miss giving zero shits about what Alabama was running, as they ran the same play three straight times, with tempo, and the Tide defense was just as confused each time.
We pick things up on 3rd and 8 at the Alabama 28-yard line, with the pre-snap look.
Elijah Moore is lined up just behind left tackle Nick Broeker. Once the ball is snapped, he will run across the formation as if he’s going to run a route into the flat, while Corral fakes the handoff and bootlegs to throw it to him.
Ole Miss has run that pass play before, which Alabama most certainly noticed on film. Look at what happens when Moore runs his decoy route.
Corral hands off to Conner, who gets a good block from Broeker on the end, and there’s no one on the edge for Alabama. In fact, two Ole Miss offensive linemen don’t have anyone to block the defense is so confused.
Conner turns the corner, and we are seeing light traffic out there on all the major thoroughfares.
After Conner picks up 14 yards, Ole Miss is ready to go again right away with the same call. Alabama, not so much.
The same play again, and Moore has many people who would like to meet him.
Alabama is so overloaded to stop Moore that a football 250-year comet flies by.
Fortunately for Alabama, a defensive lineman gets off a block and tackles Conner after a gain of five. As after the previous play, Ole Miss is ready to go again and not hiding they’re going to run the same daggum play again, with the same results.
The only question that remains is if Jerrion Ealy can hit the lone Alabama safety with the sauce.
Let’s check in on the Alabama sideline.
If you were scoring at home, that was two consecutive touchdown drives or portions of drives where Moore didn’t touch the ball, but he caused disruption and confusion for the defense. I, for one, am a fan of Elijah Moore: Terror With or Without the Ball.
Enjoy the sequence in real time.
Deep Sigh Before We Go
In his Monday media appearance, Lane Kiffin discussed the two botched snaps that killed two potential touchdown drives but specifically called out the second one.
Then the two fumbled snaps, but especially the second one. It’s third down, and we’re running a play where Kenny Yeboah is going to the flat. (Dylan Moses) has him and he’s looking in the backfield and Kenny is going to be wide open for a touchdown and we fumbled the snap.
Because I couldn’t stop myself, I took at look at what he was talking about. Turns out, in agonizing fashion, he was probably right. Here’s the pre-snap look:
Kenny Yeboah actually motioned in from the far side slot to line up behind the right guard, which was a similar look on the pop pass touchdown he caught to open the game. The two Ole Miss receivers to the near side are in tight, leaving the wide side of the field with acres of space.
The plan was to get Yeboah isolated on a linebacker and in the flat where it would be a footrace to the edge.
As Kiffin noted, the linebacker took a peek inside, which gave Yeboah the step he needed.
It’s possible the Alabama safety you can’t see anymore is able to recover and make a play, but that play is going to be made right at the first down line or the goal line. Either way, WHY DID I DO THIS SPORTS ARE THE WORST.