This afternoon’s game against Ole Miss feels similar to the last time the Rebels came to town.
Ole Miss had an unimpressive resumé at just 4-4 near the end of the 2017 season. They weren’t a good team, but they had an excellent offense with explosive pass-catchers. Fresh off a win over Tennessee, the Wildcats were well on their way to becoming an eight-win team for the first time in decades. All they needed to do was take care of business against Ole Miss and Vanderbilt the following week.
The Wildcats struck first and led for most of the game. Benny Snell was playing peak Benny Snell Football, rushing for 176 yards and three touchdowns on 28 carries. As he grounded and pound the game away, quarterback Jordan Ta’amu continued to strike back with his talented wide receivers. We knew they were good at the time, but did we know they were that good?
Ole Miss had three future second round draft picks at wide receiver, all of which have already made a significant impact in the NFL. In Van Jefferson’s first game for the LA Rams this season the rookie hauled in a 31-yard reception to set up a score. Tennessee Titan A.J. Brown finished third in offensive rookie of the year voting last season. D.K. Metcalf’s agility was mocked at the NFL Combine. Now he’s one of Russell Wilson’s favorite deep ball targets for the Seattle Seahawks.
Metcalf might be a one-trick pony that can only bring in deep balls. As we all know too well, that’s one hell of a trick.
Trailing by three in the fourth quarter, Snell and Stephen Johnson chewed up almost seven minutes of clock by marching 95 yards down the field for the go-ahead score, giving UK a four-point lead with two minutes remaining. Kentucky just needed one stop to secure the win.
The Wildcats gave up a few plays here and there, but time was in there favor. With only ten seconds remaining, Ta’amu asked Metcalf to do his trick in the end zone. Lonnie Johnson, another future second round draft pick, was all over the Ole Miss wide receiver on the corner fade. It’s hard to ask for much better coverage, yet Metcalf still somehow came down with the football.
Metcalf’s catch is one of the most impressive plays I’ve ever seen in person. Seth Williams did his best D.K. impression last week, but considering the circumstances, it still doesn’t stack up to what D.K. did in the closing seconds of that gut-wrenching 2017 loss.
This year’s Ole Miss team has a future NFL Draft pick at wide receiver as well, but Elijah Moore operates much differently than Metcalf. A slippery slot receiver, Moore is a deep play threat UK must account for at all times. Matt Corral does have a big body he can throw to as well, tight end Kenny Yeboah, a 6-foot-4 240-pounder that had almost 100 yards and a touchdown reception in the season-opener.
Just like in 2017, the Wildcats have the advantage on the ground and are a much more physical team than Ole Miss. What the Rebels lack they make up for with explosive playmakers. Mark Stoops cannot let today’s matchup turn into déjà vu all over again.