Matt Corral keeps evolving

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Sep. 19—OXFORD — Matt Corral had something to say. And the fact Ole Miss was up several touchdowns didn't really seem to matter.

The redshirt junior quarterback and Heisman Trophy frontrunner wound up throwing five touchdowns in a little over a half against Austin Peay on Sept. 11. The Rebels were rolling and, for the most part, did anything it wanted to a Governors team that had no answers for Corral's golden right arm.

But Corral wanted more, and he let head coach Lane Kiffin know that.

Following another stellar performance Saturday night, this time a seven touchdown masterpiece at the hands of a Tulane squad that wished a weather delay could have lasted a bit longer, Kiffin recounted a story from the previous week.

"We were up by a bunch, and (Corral) came over. He was mad that we were audibling a play and the receiver didn't get it, and he got mad at us. And I was like, that's pretty cool, when you take that step," Kiffin said. "You're that into the game, up 30, 40 points, and you're going to get on the head coach. ... You're at an elite level at that point. And then he shows it."

And show it Corral did and continues to do.

He became the first SEC player to throw three touchdowns and run for four in a dominant 61-21 victory over Tulane. He has 14 total touchdowns this season without a single turnover and, along with the 3-0 Rebels, is the talk of college football.

But what Corral continues to impress his teammates and coaches with is his leadership and ownership, a desire to raise his teammates' level of play. He was expecting slant routes on the specific play Kiffin mentioned, but the receivers ran go-routes. And there was no need for that.

"Most definitely (find myself being more assertive), because one, they allow me to do that do that, because they know the work I put in, speaking from a coach's perspective," Corral said. "Honestly, last week, I felt Coach Kiffin just got carried away with changing the play to get a big shot."

Corral also spoke up Saturday night during a two-hour weather delay before the Tulane game at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. His teammates weren't focused enough on the task at hand, Corral said. Some were busy watching the Alabama-Florida game and not concerned enough with going 3-0. And they needed to know that wasn't good enough.

"Everyone was focused on watching the Alabama game. (We) turned the TVs off. I mean, I was mad," Corral said. " We weren't focused. It felt like it was going to be a tough game, just because it's hard for a full unit of 80 people to be focused for this amount of time, and then not knowing when we're going to play, what time we're going to play.

"I went to the defensive side and I brought them together, I went to the offensive side and I brought them together, and I just told them, 'They have the same delay as us.' We have to focused more than they are. It all comes down to not worrying about another game rather than the one we're about to play right now. It was just focusing on the little things. When it gets a little loud in the locker room, that's not focused. ... You can tell (there's a lack of focus) when there's little chattering, just going around, and that didn't sit right with me. So I just had to say something."

That's the evolution of Matt Corral teammates have been talking about since early August. The physical skills have always been there — there's a reason Kiffin says his quarterback is going to be making a lot of money on NFL Sundays — but now his mind has caught up.

And that's a pretty horrifying proposition for the rest of the SEC.

"Now he has the work ethic, and he's putting in the preparation," Kiffin said.

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