Plumlee

Freshman quarterback John Rhys Plumlee ran for 109 yards in last Saturday’s game with Alabama. The running element he brings bodes well for the Ole Miss offense.

OXFORD

There has been no official announcement as to who will start at quarterback on Saturday when Ole Miss takes on Vanderbilt.

John Rhys Plumlee, though, is certainly trending that way.

You can conclude that by how the quarterbacks were handled in practice on Tuesday and by how an Ole Miss player, in interviews later, let slip that he thought Plumlee would start.

Kids say the darndest things.

This week Ole Miss is trying to beat an SEC opponent not named Arkansas for the first time since 2017.

It seems clear that the true freshman Plumlee is the best choice to help the Rebels get there.

Not the overwhelming choice but the best one.

Plumlee completed only 10 of 28 passes at Alabama, support for the theory that his passing game really needs work.

Corral completed better than 50 percent of his passes in two previous starts against Power Five teams, though that was just barely against the Cal Bears.

While Corral has been more accurate at some times than at others, he’s more than once missed open receivers and left big gains on the table.

So if Plumlee can become average in his accuracy he can match Corral. On the flip side, there’s enough sample size to say Corral won’t match Plumlee as a runner.

And in the new normal where the Rebels run more than 60 percent of the time under offensive coordinator Rich Rodriguez, the quarterback needs to run.

Plumlee ran for 109 yards against Alabama. He was sacked just once which was not a product of suddenly improved offensive line play but a testament to Plumlee’s escapability. Several times Alabama fans readied themselves to see their charging defender apply the big hit only to see Plumlee get the corner instead and turn a loss into a gain.

Ole Miss coach Matt Luke made Corral the face of the program in the off-season, taking his redshirt freshman to SEC Media Days and cementing him as the starter.

The Rebels needed someone to rally around. Now they need someone to find the end zone.

Corral’s play isn’t what has the Rebels at a quarterback crossroads right now. He’s thrown only one interception in four starts and will carry a streak of 104 passes without a pick into the Vanderbilt game. That’s phenomenal for a redshirt freshman.

Plumlee has taken care of the ball with equal effectiveness. The difference here is Plumlee is a running quarterback for a running offense.

And that’s a big difference.

Parrish Alford (parrish.alford@journalinc.com) covers Ole Miss for the Daily Journal. Find more in the Facebook group “Ole Miss Discussion with Parrish Alford.”

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