Ole Miss quarterback Matt Corral has been heralded as one of the best—if not the best—signal-caller in the 2022 NFL Draft class since before the season began. Nothing has changed, with the regular season in the books after a 31-21 win over Mississippi State in the Egg Bowl.
Corral and the Rebels took home the Golden Egg for the second consecutive time as the quarterback completed 25-of-33 passes for 229 yards with one touchdown and one interception, also carrying the ball 12 times for 45 yards with a rushing touchdown to go with it. That is the most rushing yards Corral has had in a single game since Oct. 30 when the Rebels fell 37-21 to the Auburn Tigers—he also had 45 rushing yards in that game. While this type of total isn’t as flashy as the 195-yard game he had against Tennessee or the 94-yard game he had on the ground against Arkansas, it did show that he seems to be on the up in that category after battling injury over this recent stretch of games.
Corral’s mobility has been one of his more notable aspects in scouting reports, but he hasn’t been able to use it as much to his advantage as of late because of the results of playing through pain. Apparent injuries and all, though, Corral has still been able to make key plays on the ground and has a knack for making defenders miss, whether he’s at 100% or not.
That was something that certainly remained true on Thursday night against Mississippi State. This was perhaps the most key play to the Rebels’ win, extending their lead to a substantial margin early in the fourth quarter. Though this play only went for four yards, it’s a testament to the effort of Corral and his willingness to get to the end-zone regardless of what it takes—we’ve seen him show grit and find a way on the ground several times this season.
Corral wasn’t overwhelmingly remarkable as a passer in this game—he had some really nice throws but there were also a high number of short throws, so we didn’t see too much of Corral on the deep ball. Of course, game planning goes into some of that and just because a quarterback isn’t asked to/doesn’t need to chuck it downfield in certain situations doesn’t mean that he doesn’t have the ability to do so. Regardless, Corral did have an interception that did appear to be his fault that could have been returned for a pick-six if the Mississippi State defender had been just a bit faster, and also had some questionable throws into coverage on the night.
Watching this game, outside of a couple of plays, it’s easy to come away underwhelmed—not disappointed but just desiring a bit more—with Corral as a passer. But then we watch plays like this one (where his receiver should have caught the ball) and there’s reason to take that notion back.
It’s going to be interesting to see how Corral continues to perform when the Rebels go bowling and how well he compares in NFL draft preparation events.
Perhaps the biggest question that still looms is just how well Corral will transition to the NFL and if, once he’s been with an organization for a few years or so, if he lives up to the hype that’s surrounded him for so long.