For the last two years, Marvin Mims has been the Oklahoma Sooners’ most productive receiver. In his freshman campaign of 2020, Mims caught 37 balls for 610 yards and nine touchdowns in 11 games – all led the team. He followed that up with 32 receptions for 705 yards and five scores in 13 games during the 2021 season.
Mims should get ready for a much heavier workload this fall. At least, he should if the track record of new offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby from the last two years at Ole Miss offers any indication. Take a look at the stats for the Rebels’ top targets during that period:
- Dontario Drummond (2021) – 76 receptions for 1,028 yards and eight TDs
- Elijah Moore (2020) – 86 receptions for 1,193 yards and eight TDs.
Even if you inflated Mims’ numbers from the last two seasons by 20% to account for differences in offensive tempo, he still wouldn’t come close to the stats put up by the two Rebel receivers. A look back at how Ole Miss used Moore and Drummond might give us an idea of what’s in store for him in 2022.
Lebby’s RPO-heavy scheme functions as something like the modern-day equivalent of the old triple option. Rather than using an unblocked run defender to determine who will get to run the ball, quarterbacks decide whether the play will be a run or a pass based on how defenses align before the snap or how specific defenders initially react after the snap. (Coaches Caviar on YouTube has put together multiple videos that deftly break down Ole Miss’ RPOs from recent seasons.)
In that sense, Lebby has an organic way of getting Mims more looks by calling RPOs in which Mims is the receiving option. Here’s an example of what that looks like in practice from the first play of Ole Miss’ game against Alabama last season:
This post-snap RPO combines an outside zone run with a seam route by Drummond (No. 11, outside WR to the bottom of the screen). Before the snap, an Ole Miss receiver goes in motion towards the field, bringing down one of Bama’s safeties towards the line of scrimmage. On the snap, the receiver lined up off the line to Drummond’s left runs a flat route to the boundary to draw the Bama overhang defender (No. 13) with him. The offensive line blocks outside zone to left for the running back. At the mesh point with the RB, Ole Miss QB Matt Corral is reading the Crimson Tide’s WILL inside linebacker (highlighted in the blue rectangle). If the WILL comes up towards the line of scrimmage, Corral is throwing to Drummond. If the WILL moves back into space to cover Drummond, Corral hands the ball off.
Here’s what happened:
With the WILL sliding towards the line when he reads run off the snap, a throwing lane has opened up for Corral to hit Drummond on a seam in the vacant area inside the red circle. Drummond makes the catch for 13 yards and a first down.
The upshot is that by involving Mims in the RPO, he’s either open or the offense has obtained a numbers advantage for running the ball.
If Lebby wants to get more intentional about giving Mims the rock, he can always use motion or shifts to put No. 17 in advantageous position. Here’s an example from the first play of Ole Miss’ game in 2020 against Florida.
In this instance, the Rebels are running a play to leverage the explosiveness of Moore (No. 8) when he receives the ball on the run. Moore initially lines up wide to the field side of the offensive formation. Prior to the snap, the QB (also Corral) signals for Moore to go in motion. The UF defensive back (No. 3) lined up directly across from Moore begins to trail the receiver across the formation, indicating he’s playing man coverage on Moore.
The Rebels throw UF for a loop, though. Moore breaks off his orbit motion directly behind the QB and reverses course as the ball is snapped. With Moore sprinting out on a flare route, Corral tosses him what turns into a halfback screen pass behind the line of scrimmage.
Not only does Ole Miss essentially take the DB (circled) assigned to Moore out of the play, the speedy wideout also has another receiver and a tight end blocking for him on the edge. He picks up nine of his 227 yards for the game on the play.
Ole Miss also had the standard tap pass in its arsenal. In this play from the Rebels’ game versus LSU last year, Drummond starts in the slot to the bottom of the screen and goes in motion towards the top.
As Drummond enters the tackle box with his motion, Corral signals for the snap. The QB instantaneously flips the ball to Drummond in front of him.
Coming around left end, Drummond has three blockers clearing the way. Meanwhile, the offensive line is blocking GT counter in the opposite direction of the flow of the play. It looks as though the LSU defensive end (No. 53) lined up to the boundary sees that action and reads run to his left, which prevents him from Drummond on the spot.
Mims has left little doubt he felt neglected last year. While the Sooners had a tendency to spread the ball around in the past, the Rebs clearly made a point to put the ball in the hands of their better receivers. Assuming Lebby remains true to form, OU’s star receiver should relish his role in the offense this season.