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Matt Corral passed for 112 yards, but also had an interception among his 17 attempts.

OXFORD

Welcome, interested viewers, to another episode of “As The Quarterback Turns.”

In this week’s episode Matt Corral, half of a two-quarterback system at Ole Miss, carefully navigates the first of two weeks of preparation for a daunting road trip to No 10 Auburn which looms in the distance for the Rebels.

Young Corral knows he’s the healthy one of the two quarterbacks as even younger John Rhys Plumlee has just had minor knee surgery.

Rebels coach Matt Luke, in Monday’s program, expressed hope that Plumlee will be ready to start against the Tigers and their ferocious defensive front, but Corral understands that a knee injury for Plumlee, whose greatest asset is his running ability, is no small matter.

Every quarterback who is not the starter is just one play away from taking the lead.

Indeed, when our series began Corral was a true freshman behind veteran Jordan Ta’amu, a four-star recruit anointed as the Rebels’ future of the quarterback position.

Only a redshirt freshman, he was named the starter in the off-season, carried himself that way through spring drills while two true freshmen behind him competed for the backup role.

Eventually Corral would become a spokesman for the team at SEC Media Days, the summertime celebration of the conference.

Plumlee, though, was still playing baseball at Oak Grove High School in the spring. His arrival in the summer added drama to our story.

The advantage of Corral’s experience as a true freshman was minimized when the offensive system changed, and Plumlee, the best runner of four quarterbacks, quickly adapted to the ways of new coordinator Rich Rodriguez.

Corral remained the starter in the first three episodes, but Plumlee lurked until fate intervened, and Corral left Episode 4, the California game, with bruised ribs. Plumlee dashed onto the field and on his first college play ran for 47 yards.

He would run for 100 yards the next week against mighty Alabama while Corral would heal and Rodriguez, the mad scientist, would ponder his quarterback situation.

Friends, devoted followers of the soap opera, drama has returned.

Will Plumlee play against Auburn? If so, will he be at full speed, or will his greatest asset be less impactful against a Tigers front wall that has produced the SEC’s defensive lineman of the week five times in seven games played?

Will Corral, an improved passer since Episode 1, benefit from an injury the way Plumlee did and have an outstanding performance to reassert himself in the quarterback picture?

Drama, rarely in short supply for Ole Miss football, has returned for the Rebels’ evolving quarterback picture.

Stay tuned.

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

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