Ole Miss football got underway for the first time at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium over the weekend, and everyone is yearning for a glimpse of the action. Lane Kiffin keeps tight wraps on his program to begin with, and COVID-19 has kept access to an extreme minimum entering the 2020 season.
Thankfully, we have our good friend Josh McCoy (@OleMissPix) with Ole Miss Athletics who was there to shoot the Rebels as the blue and red squads took the field against one another. Let’s take a look at the 10 best shots from the weekend:
The Big Uglies dug in.
Ole Miss’ offensive line saw a lot of youth make their first appearances on the big stage a season ago and is prepared to take a big jump in 2020. Eli Johnson opted out of the season, which muddles the projected front five ever so slightly. As line coach Randy Clements, offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby and Kiffin worked through the possible lineups, they looked large and in charge.
That’s a freshman.
Eli Acker was listed as a four-star prospect by ESPN out of high school. He committed to the Rebels in 2018 and came to Oxford as a 6-foot-5, 290-pound freshman this summer. After an offseason with strength coach Wilson Love, he is huge. None of the young offensive lineman are expected to redshirt and Acker has (reportedly) impressed thus far.
Ocho went loco.
Elijah Moore is the clear-cut No. 1 target in the 2020 receiving core and continues to distance himself as a superstar. He had his helmet ripped off while making a tough catch over the weekend and still came down with the ball.
Rumor has it.
There has been very little information that has leaked from the scrimmage, or fall practice in general. However, the grapevine is rumbling around the quarterback position. As hear-say would have it, Matt Corral made a significant case for the starting job this offseason and has been clocked on a few occasions as the fastest player at the position. Kiffin said that the Southern California gunslinger had a “really impressive” day in the first game-like situation under the new staff.
The wheels have not fallen off.
John Rhys Plumlee is still fast. Despite his counterpart’s strong start to the fall, the Hattiesburg native remains very much in the mix for the starting job. It is not fair to discuss Corral’s strong scrimmage without mentioning the notion that it may have been restricted play that did not allow quarterbacks to get hit or take off at full speed. That’s where Plumlee makes his money, and he may not have been able to use his feet to the full extent.
Plumlee has not shown to be an elite passer, and the speculative scrimmage numbers suggested that he is still struggling in that department. However, we have heard throughout camp that much of his focus surrounds technique and motion with improvement through the air as the primary goal. Should he not get the starting nod, he is presumably too good of a playmaker to keep on the sideline. Perhaps it would be better to get him reps at another position sooner rather than later.
Run, baby, run.
We haven’t heard much regarding what the offense is going to look like, or how much the Rebels plan to run the ball. Sources say that Henry Parrish Jr. has been impressive and had a great day on Saturday, but all we know as fact is that Jerrion Ealy is all alone in this picture. Make your conclusions from there.
The defensive front comes with the most uncertainty on either side of the ball. Sam Williams, who was slated to be a monster force at the hybrid linebacker/edge rusher position, is suspended. A lot of D.J. Durkin and Chris Partridge’s first-year success will surround Ryder Anderson’s ability to come into his own this season. He recovered a fumble on Saturday.
Monte Kiffin, the 80-year-old father of the Tampa-2 defense and his son Lane, is an advisor to the defense at Ole Miss. He oversaw the weekend’s action.
The head ball coach.
The difference between Matt Luke and Lane Kiffin is astounding. We don’t know much about the inner-workings of the 2020 Ole Miss football program, but we do know that for the first time in his career, Kiffin is strictly the head coach. He is not calling (all of the) plays, he isn’t overseeing a position, and he won’t be the lead man in charge of recruiting. It is his program.