When yet another home conference game goes to the last play, it’s easy to forget what we witnessed leading up to the apex of anxiety.
We all know Tre Harris was sensational against Texas A&M, which included a god-tier, one-handed grab in the third quarter that will be the best or among the best catches all season.
But, if you’re like me, you didn’t recognize how good his 11 receptions for 213 yards and one touchdown were. Aside from him dominating the game, his performance cracked the top 10 in Ole Miss single-game records for receptions and yards.
Harris’ 11 catches check in at 9th all-time,* and his 213 receiving yards are good for seventh place in school history. So, you know, pretty good.
*Of the 13 spots in the top 10 (ties allow for more than 10) for receptions, Elijah Moore owns seven of them. Incredibly, Bill Flowers had a game in 2002 where he caught 11 passes for.......88 yards. David Cutcliffe was an artist.
To celebrate Harris’ performance, we are obligated to rank each of his 11 receptions. To do so, we will follow a path of normal to abnormal.
For each catch below, you will see a screenshot of his route, followed by one of him making the catch. I apologize in advance for the graininess in some of the images, but there were few heroes posting the full game in HD, so we get the version most likely lifted from a Serbian domain.
All four of these receptions were a standard hitch route, where Harris goes vertical before hitting the brakes and working back to the ball. Kudos to Dart for dialing up the RPMs and getting him the ball on time before a defender could make a play.
Degree of Difficulty Increasing
As you may have noticed during the game, the Aggies spent many a play cheating their linebackers up in run support or to generate pressure on Dart. The counter to that choice is to hit them with glance routes into the space they vacate.
A glance route is essentially a skinny post or slant where the receiver starts vertical, then sticks his outside foot into the ground and breaks into said space. For whatever reason, Texas A&M continued to leave Harris in one-on-one situations.
Spoiler: it did not go well for them!
The Aggies actually blow coverage here, as both defenders who could defend Harris jump the shallow routes.
Slot-ish Fade Forever
In one-on-one coverage, a slot fade, with no safety help, is a nasty route* to defend. The defender’s back will almost always be to the quarterback, and, if the ball is thrown high enough with accuracy, his only hope is to blindly throw up a hand at the perfect time and deflect the ball.
*If you recall, when LSU played Ole Miss, they scored three (if I remember correctly) of their passing touchdowns on slot fades. All were perfect throws by Jayden Daniels.
In these two receptions, Harris lines up inside the numbers (the literal numbers painted on the field), starts a vertical climb before fading to the sideline.
Once again, Dart throws two great passes, the second of which was dropping it in a bucket while an A&M defender hit him in the face (no call!).
Elite camera work at the snap.
It’s Go Time
On these two plays, the Aggies use press man coverage with no possibility a safety can make a play on a well-thrown ball, despite Harris proving over and over he would destroy solo coverage. Huge “let’s do it and be legends” energy from Texas A&M defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin.
Notice Harris lines up at or outside the numbers, so this is a go route all the way, meaning beat press coverage, run like hell, and make a play.
This is a great example of the Aggies shifting into one-high coverage with a safety inside the hashmarks and no chance to help on any throw to the outside. Once Harris beats his man off the line, it’s up to Dart to put the ball in the window, which he does.
Dart actually underthrows this ball, but Harris beats his man so badly that he’s racing to catch up and never looks for the ball, while the safety can’t get there to make a play.
Again, press man coverage with no safety help. Even after being interfered with, Harris creates just enough space to do, as the analytics experts say, some alien shit.
In a game where the officials reviewed everything, even they saw how perfect it* was and didn’t bother with a superficial review. Again, that’s SEC officials (in-game and at the home office in Birmingham) not needing to see close things on replay just because. History-making stuff, friends.
*For the record, the Ole Miss in-game operators didn’t celebrate the catch on the jumbotron, but they did make sure Glen Waddle’s PA mic volume was as loud as it’s ever been so he can do play-by-play after each play. STOP THE MADNESS AND TURN IT DOWN TO LIKE A SEVEN. I watched the game when I got back home, and he, as always, is as loud as the TV announcers. The only school in America where this happens.
Finally (and the people said AMEN), I consulted the Gray Brain Archives™, and only the comparable Ole Miss alien catch I could recall was Braylon Sanders’ against Alabama in 2021.
Obviously, Harris’ catch is a tribute to the infamous Odell Beckham Jr. catch in 2014, which was roughly three years ago according to my internal date reference clock. Whether he does another tribute this season remains to be seen, but we would all sign up for 11 catches and 213 yards on Saturday.*
*Kirby Smart probs not going to play solo coverage on him though. Bracket coverage and gamble someone else can’t make plays.