OXFORD, Miss. (WJTV) – In a game where the Rebels put up 531 yards and 40 points, their offense might have looked its best when plays broke down.
“We’ve really harped on knowing the routes and knowing the reads,” Shea Patterson said. “When something breaks down, just go out there and play ball.”
No play exemplified that more than A.J. Brown’s second touchdown in the third quarter. Shea Patterson escaped the pocket, ran to his right and heaved a pass that Brown found a way to grab. He stiff-armed a Jaguar, turned upfield and had his second 70-plus yard touchdown of a record-breaking game.
“I saw the slant and it wasn’t open,” Patterson said. “I went to my backside concept and was about to throw it to Van (Jefferson) but saw he had a guy outside. So I got outside of the pocket and like I said, A.J. does a tremendous job of playing ball with me when I get outside the pocket.”
“For a split second, I thought he was going to run and intercept the ball,” Brown said. “So I just tried to run back to the ball and make something happen. Eventually, my hands touched the ball and I have real strong hands so I just kind of felt that.”
The sophomore from Starkville was feeling himself all game, going for a single-game program record of 233 receiving yards. D.K. Metcalf added eight catches for 84 yards while DaMarkus Lodge caught five passes and two touchdowns.
“I always knew he had something like that in him,” Patterson said of Brown’s performance. “We’ve got five guys kind of just like that. It’s funny because either one could have a game like that. That’s what makes this offense and them so special.”
“There’s no roof,” Brown said of the receiving group’s potential. “It’s crazy because we see it every day. So it’s just time to show the world now.”
Patterson completed 80 percent of his passes for 429 yards with four touchdowns and no turnovers. His scrambles helped but there were times where they hurt him.
In the first quarter, he was sacked for an 11-yard loss that helped force Ole Miss to settle for a field goal. Later in the third quarter, he was flagged for intentional grounding on another sack inside his own 20.
Matt Luke said he acknowledges his quarterback might take a few more hits running the way he does. But ultimately, he said it’s a vital part of the sophomore’s game.
“I think you do worry about it, but that’s what makes him special,” Luke said. “I don’t think you can take that away from him. I think as he gets more experience, he’ll learn when he can and can’t do those things.”
“I’m fine with him athletically as long as he protects the football,” offensive coordinator Phil Longo said. “At the end of the play, he usually makes a really good decision about where he throws the ball. He’s not just erratically throwing the ball up out of duress. He’s getting himself into a position where he can see something and find somebody. That’s why I think those scrambles are productive.”
“I tell him sometimes you need to slide, sometimes stay in the pocket,” Brown said. “But that’s just him being an athlete. You can’t teach that.”
“I think one time I had something where I didn’t need to do that,” Patterson said. “But sometimes, stuff isn’t there. I think that’s what separates me from a lot of other guys.”
And the improvisation from he and his offense was what helped separate Ole Miss from South Alabama.