OXFORD • The biggest quarterback question mark of August for Ole Miss has been not who will start Saturday at Memphis, but who will be the backup.
Matt Corral, a redshirt freshman, assumed the role of starter as soon as the 2018 season ended. He became a voice for the offense and a leader for his teammates.
Behind Corral there are three true freshmen.
Kinkead Dent, a 6-foot-4 pro style quarterback, did not appear on the first game-week two-deep depth chart and appears likely to redshirt.
The depth chart reads that either John Rhys Plumlee or Grant Tisdale will be the primary backup.
Plumlee, who made a late charge in camp, is listed ahead of Tisdale.
Luke said he’ll “play it by ear” with the freshmen whether to try and work them into the game or save their appearances.
They can play in four games – as Corral did last season – and preserve a redshirt year.
“The four-game rule gives you a little flexibility. I think John Rhys does give you a lot with his legs. In every scrimmage he showed up making plays. Grant, all-around, he’s very smart, a good decision-maker. They all bring something a little different to the table,” Luke said.
Three first-year junior college transfers are listed as starters on defense.
Outside linebacker Sam Williams (Northeast Mississippi CC) and strong safety Jonathan Williams (Jones County JC) were mid-year transfers who participated in spring drills. They were starters when camp began and held those positions throughout.
Inside linebacker Lakia Henry (Dodge City Kansas CC) was elevated to the first team during the second week of camp and held the position the rest of the way.
“I think us three are really going to have an impact on the defense,” Haynes said. “I can’t wait to see what it brings. We’ll be prepared Saturday and see.”
The plan for Ealy
Freshman Jerrion Ealy, a five-star running back signee, is listed on the depth chart as sharing the No. 2 position with freshman Jarod “Snoop” Conner and sophomore Isaiah Woullard.
Last week in the final days of camp Ealy was the first running back to sub in behind starter Scottie Phillips.
He’s also listed No. 2 at kick returner behind junior Jaylon Jones.
“Obviously he’s a very talented young man. He can really, really run when he gets the ball in open space. We’ll see come game-time. The threat of him returning kicks, the threat of getting the ball in space also at running back … he’s got a chance to make a big impact,” Luke said.
Ealy also returned punts during camp, but the two listed at that position are receivers Elijah Moore and Braylon Sanders.