Ole Miss Football Bowl Notebook: One Last Time

Published 10:41 am Monday, January 3, 2022

OXFORD, Miss. — After all the successes and adversity the Ole Miss offense has experienced in 2021, they’ll get one more game on New Year’s Day to go out a winner and leave a lasting legacy in Oxford. All of that proved to be a common theme on Thursday’s Allstate Sugar Bowl media op featuring offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby and players on that side of the ball.

Lebby himself will be calling his final game Saturday after recently being tabbed to lead his alma mater’s offense at Oklahoma in 2022. However, he felt it was his duty to finish what he started and give it his all one last time.

“Yeah, it has been a lot, obviously, because early signing day and the way that works, being able to go back to Norman and see that part of it through, while at the same time knowing, man, that I wanted to be here. I wanted to be here for Matt (Corral). I wanted to be here for all these guys, to be able to go finish this thing the right way. Just a great opportunity for us to be able to go win 11 games for the first time in the history of the school and that matters. So it mattered to me to be here for them, and that’s why I’m here,” Lebby said.

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Lebby’s offensive players shared the same goal in mind, including their unquestioned leader, Matt Corral. The veteran signal-caller has made it clear through the latter part of the season of his plans to pursue a professional football career at season’s end. However, Corral felt he owed it to his team to finish the job.

“No one really understands how close we really are. It would have been the wrong thing to do,” Corral said.

Four of his other teammates: Nick BroekerJerrion EalySnoop Conner and Braylon Sanders were each asked to reflect on their Rebel careers and why they each chose to not opt-out or enter the NFL draft early, cutting their season short. Each shared the same sentiment that it’s about each other and the university they represent.

“It’s a big deal,” Conner said. “When I first came in, we weren’t a winning program…It’s a big deal for us and the whole Ole Miss nation. They (coaching staff) brought a winning mentality and told us to believe in them and do what they say. We just believed.”

The Rebel offense will have a fitting end to their season, facing perhaps one of their toughest tests of the season. The No. 7-ranked, Big 12 champion Baylor Bears boast a powerful interior defensive line and a unit that files to the football with the ability to take the ball away at a moment’s notice.

“Obviously, they’re here in New Orleans in the Sugar Bowl because of creating turnovers. That’s what’s got them to this point. They’ve done a heck of a job. They’re incredibly well-coached. They’re incredibly sound. And they play with great, great effort. Got to match that and surpass it, but excited about it,” Lebby said.

The Allstate Sugar Bowl on New Year’s Day kicks off at 7:45 p.m. CT and can be seen on ESPN or listened to on the Ole Miss Radio Network.

Get all the latest information on the team by following @olemissfb on Twitter and Instagram and OleMissFootball on Facebook. General athletic news can also be found at OleMissSports on Twitter and Facebook and OleMissAthletics on Instagram.