Matt Corral is still Matt Corral. He might be the best quarterback in the country, with 20 total touchdowns and just a lone turnover (lost fumble) to his name. The redshirt junior has done everything that’s been asked of him and then some, leading the Rebels back from the brink of collapse on more than one occasion against Arkansas. Tennessee’s Hendon Hooker has had a great season, but Corral is going to win this matchup nearly every week.
Edge: Ole Miss
››WHO IS MATT CORRAL? Ole Miss quarterback growing off the field as he excels on it
This one is extremely close. One hand, the Volunteers have Tiyon Evans (482 yards, six touchdowns), which is about 150 yards more than Ole Miss’ leading rusher Henry Parrish Jr. has. The Rebels have numbers, however, as Parrish and Snoop Conner were a force to be reckoned with against the Razorbacks. Ole Miss ran for more than 300 yards, and that was without Jerrion Ealy available. If he’s there, that backfield is scarier.
Edge: Ole Miss
Wide receiver and tight end
If Jonathan Mingo was available, it’s an easy edge to the Rebels. But given that he was last seen in a walking boot, it seems his return might be doubtful against Tennessee. Still, Ole Miss has a lot of firepower in Dontario Drummond and Braylon Sanders. The Volunteers have Velus Jones, Cedric Tillman and deep threat JaVonta Payton (24.1 yards per reception), though, giving their receiving corps the type of diversity Ole Miss itself has.
The Rebels had what is likely their best performance up front against the Razorbacks last weekend, paving the way for 611 total yards, 324 coming on the ground. As impressive is the fact Corral was not sacked during the game. While some of that can be attributed to Corral’s niftiness in the pocket, the line overall performed very well despite not having guard Caleb Warren. Tennessee runs the ball quite well but struggles in pass protection, having allowed 20 sacks already compared to Ole Miss’ eight.
Edge: Ole Miss
The Rebels have had a tough couple of weeks against the run, surrendering 560 combined rushing yards to Alabama and Arkansas. While part of that is due to a light alignment of players in the box due to the 3-2-6, part of that is because the Ole Miss defensive line hasn’t played particularly well. The Rebels are getting after the quarterback decently, largely due to Sam Williams’ five sacks. Getting pressure has largely been an issue, though.
Tennessee hasn’t played the gauntlet Ole Miss has, but the Volunteers boast a better rush defense (30th nationally) and get after the quarterback fairly well.
Jeremy Banks is the best of the bunch for the Volunteers, having already notched seven tackles for loss. Ole Miss counters with Chance Campbell, who is having a nice year in his own right with 38 tackles and three sacks. For the most part, however, Ole Miss linebackers have struggled the last couple of weeks, and that shows up largely in the running game.
Ole Miss gave up a lot of explosive plays in the passing game against Arkansas, though part of that is because K.J. Jefferson was hardly ever pressured. But Treylon Burks looked like a man among boys at times, and the Rebels’ secondary once again began to show its warts. While frequently playing six defensive backs skews this next stat a bit, it’s still telling: four of Ole Miss’ five leading tacklers play in the secondary.
Ole Miss and Tennessee both feature good kickers in Caden Costa and Chase McGrath, who have both missed just one field goal each. Mac Brown is averaging nearly 48 yards per punt, while Tennessee’s Paxton Brooks is at just under 45 yards. Costa has been stellar, but he’s still a true freshman. McGrath, a transfer from USC with 38 career field goal makes, is a seasoned veteran.