Ole Miss quarterback Matt Corral has largely been neck-and-neck with Alabama signal-caller Bryce Young in the race for Heisman Trophy frontrunner, but, especially in the past couple of weeks, it looks like Corral has the edge.
Purely from a prospect standpoint, Young is still posting some incredible numbers and grading out as one of college football’s best players but has had some moments where he’s not looked elite under pressure and seems to lack an “it” factor that sets him apart. He still has some to show as far as proving he can be a legitimate NFL quarterback in the future. All things considered, it is only his first season starting after the departure of current New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones and he’s only a sophomore—so there’s a wealth of time to change that narrative and it’s still early on.
Corral, however, seems to be more of a game-changer right now in his own right, and while this is an opened up offense that he’s undoubtedly being given every chance to show off his talents in, you get the sense that Ole Miss may not be quite on this level if it wasn’t for how well Corral has been taking care of business.
The Rebels signal-caller does it all. He’s an accurate passer who has rarely turned this ball over this season, makes NFL-level throws, can extend plays, and can downright own the ground game if you want him to do that too. So far this season, Corral has completed 122-of-184 passes (66.3%) for 1,728 yards with 14 touchdowns and just one interception through six starts. He’s also carried the ball 88 times for 450 rushing yards with eight touchdowns on the ground.
The latest team he and the Rebels faced was the Tennessee Volunteers. Rebels head coach Lane Kiffin was asked what gave him confidence in a hostile road environment like Tennessee.
He gave a two-word reply: “Matt Corral.”
Corral didn’t disappoint, either, completing 21-of-28 passes for 231 yards with two touchdowns and one interception, also rushing for 195 yards—far and away leading the team as a runner in the 31-26 win.
Vols head coach Josh Heupel had said ahead in the week ahead of the game that the team had to “apply pressure to him, and also bottle him up inside the pocket, if you let him get loose he'll hurt you with his feet but he hurts you with his arm first.”
That’s a pretty accurate short-form description of exactly what Corral is.
Just like the week before, Corral’s full skill set was on display throughout the performance. Despite throwing his first interception of the season (which still gives him an outstanding ratio considering he’s attempted 184 passes this season), Corral looked more than efficient at all levels of the field and impressed with his deep ball.
One other less tangible thing that Corral has consistently displayed is grit and toughness, something that is undoubtedly a positive but may prove costly as Corral is trying to recover from injury after the outing against Tennessee. Kiffin gave a pessimistic update on Corral’s status for the upcoming LSU game earlier this week.
“He’s not in very good shape,” Kiffin said. “Hasn’t been for the last two days. You guys know how we are on injuries. Hopefully he’ll play, but I do not feel good about that right now.”
This will be a situation to watch as Corral continues to make an impression as one of the top prospects in the nation this season.