Ole Miss quarterback John Rhys Plumlee will become a better passer with experience.


There haven’t been many questions about the two-quarterback system at Ole Miss this week.

It kind of sneaked into the Rebels’ season when John Rhys Plumlee replaced Matt Corral with about 5 minutes left against California in Week 4.

It’s sneaking out after Plumlee rushed for 212 yards and four touchdowns against LSU.

Truth is, it’s been a two-quarterback system in name only in recent weeks. There’s been a clear pecking order, with Plumlee getting the most kernels of corn.

The two-quarterback system remained in play because Plumlee is not an accomplished passer.

It’s uncommon for a freshman to be “accomplished” at all responsibilities for his position. The natural circle of life suggests that Plumlee will become a better passer as he gains experience. That’s certainly the theory his coaches are floating.

Indeed, in just the last two weeks Plumlee is completing passes with a 60.6 percent success rate.

He needs to continue to improve, and the question for a guy who hopes to be a starting outfielder for the baseball team a few months from now is when? When does that improvement come?

Most starting quarterbacks will have 15 spring practices to fine-tune certain elements of their game.

Plumlee’s handlers haven’t met and hammered out a spring routine for him yet, but Ole Miss coach Matt Luke is confident it will include football even as NCAA practice time limits enter the equation.

“There are some concerns with the 20-hour rule, but I anticipate him being at spring practice and being able to throw some to the receivers,” Luke said.

If time and work is what will make Plumlee a better passer, as his coaches suggest, then it’s hard to see him making a lot of progress from December to August if he doesn’t have a spring football role.

There are the summertime “voluntary” workouts between quarterbacks and receivers, but those are unsupervised.

Neither Ole Miss quarterback has thrown a touchdown pass in more than a month, but the sum total of Plumlee’s last two weeks – 20 for 33, 247 yards – would not make a bad single-game total.

Timing and chemistry need to improve, as does ball placement even on completed passes, but the last two weeks may be an indication of the value of repetitions.

With what Plumlee brings to the run game Luke and offensive coordinator Rich Rodriguez would take a 60.6 completion percentage in a heartbeat.

His ball-protection has been stellar. He’s thrown three interceptions in 136 attempts, two of them coming late in road games at Alabama and Auburn when he floated balls while trying to make something happen.

Luke and baseball coach Mike Bianco haven’t spoken about Plumlee since he’s become the starting quarterback, but it’s clear the plan from Luke’s perspective is not to punt spring football.

That’s not something Plumlee can do if he’s to become the complete quarterback the Rebels need in 2020.

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

Recommended for you

comments powered by Disqus