4 takeaways as Matt Corral, Ole Miss football offense dominate in 2021 Grove Bowl
Ole Miss hosted its annual spring scrimmage on Saturday, pitting the first-team offense and the second-team defense (Blue Team) against the first-team defense and second-team offense (Red Team). The Blue Team, led by junior quarterback Matt Corral, won 28-6.
Corral, who only played one half, led all four touchdown drives for his team in the game. He threw for 208 yards and two touchdowns and led the team into the red zone three other times, leading to two rushing touchdowns and a turnover on downs.
The second- and third-team offenses failed to score against the backup defenders until the final play. Defenders snagged four interceptions, including one each from freshman early enrollees Tysheem Johnson and M.J. Daniels. Junior defensive back Deantre Prince also intercepted a pass in his first Grove Bowl since returning to the team this offseason.
Here are four takeaways from Lane Kiffin's first spring practice at Ole Miss.
Matt Corral to Braylon Sanders still works
Corral found a familiar favorite target in senior wide receiver Braylon Sanders. He caught four passes for 135 yards and a touchdown in the first half, including a 62-yard completion on the first play from scrimmage and a 28-yard gainer to put the Blue Team on the 1 with three seconds left in the half.
Sanders and Corral built a chemistry in the back half of last season when Sanders developed into Corral's most reliable deep threat. That connection was evident Saturday, but so was the fact that Corral trusts Sanders in tight spaces. Corral threw to Sanders four times in goal-to-go situations, resulting in one touchdown for Sanders and one for Jonathan Mingo on a ball that bounced off Sanders' fingers.
1s with the 2s
It's probably a good sign for Ole Miss that veteran defenders like safety Jon Haynes, linebacker MoMo Sanogo and edge rusher Tavius Robinson lined up with the second-team defense, not the first. That shows the depth that's developing; seasoned, experienced players becoming rotational pieces means everyone will be fresher.
Haynes had a great game, logging one interception and one sack. Robinson had two sacks and Sanogo made three tackles. The trio played sparsely in the second half.
Backup QBs struggle
Kinkead Dent took every rep at quarterback for the Red Team in the first three quarters and switched to the Blue Team for the fourth. Dent threw interceptions on his first two drives and a third on the first play of the fourth quarter. He showed a willingness to take deep shots against single coverage, resulting in a few big gains.
Dent finished passing 7-for-25 with 107 yards and three interceptions.
Early enrollee Luke Altmyer played the entire second half, quarterbacking the Blue Team in the third quarter and the Red Team in the fourth. He struggled to move the ball and threw one interception early but responded with a touchdown drive in the final minutes to get the Red Team on the board.
Altmyer finished 3-for-9 with 16 yards and a touchdown.
Most impressive walk-on
None of Ole Miss' five scholarship running backs played. That allowed walk-on senior Jakwaize Walker to stand out. Walker ran 11 times for 75 yards and two touchdowns and also caught two passes for 12 yards.
It's hard to foresee Walker stealing reps from the likes of Jerrion Ealy, Snoop Conner or Henry Parrish in the fall. But a performance like Saturday's will stick in coaches' heads and might make him an option on special teams.
Contact Nick Suss at 601-408-2674 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @nicksuss on Twitter.