A.J. Brown, D.K. Metcalf and DaMarkus Lodge torched the Texas Tech secondary on Saturday.
Ole Miss entered the season with a three-headed dynamo at wide receiver, with A.J. Brown, DeMarkus Lodge and D.K. Metcalf having each caught at least seven touchdowns in 2017. The trio didn't dissapoint in the Rebels' season opener, a 47–27 win over Texas Tech.
The Rebels' offense cruised throughout Saturday's contest, as quarterback Jordan Ta'amu tore up the Red Raiders' secondary with ease. Metcalf kicked off the action with a 58-yard touchdown on the second play of the game, beginning a run of dominance that continued into the final frame as Texas Tech struggled to keep up on offense, especially after starting quarterback McLane Carter went down with an injury.
Brown, Lodge and Metcalf combined for 17 catches for 189 yards and two scores. Both Metcalf and Brown found the end zone—Brown's score came on a 34-yard toss early in the fourth quarter—while Lodge led the Rebels with 96 yards receiving. Ole Miss quarterback Jordan Ta'amu had open receivers streaking down the field nearly all day at NRG Stadium in Houston. Texas Tech's defense was overmatched from the opening possession.
The Rebels' offensive demolition did come against a notoriously porous defense, but don't expect SEC competition to slow them down. Brown, whom many project to be the first receiver off the board in the 2019 NFL draft, posted 100-plus yard performances against Auburn, Vanderbilt and Mississippi State last season, while five of Metcalf's seven touchdowns in 2017 came in conference play. The group lost Van Jefferson, the team’s fourth-leading receiver in 2017, as part of the exodus of transfers following the NCAA sanctions against Ole Miss, including a 2018 bowl ban. But after Ta'amu's passing display and an explosive 204 yards and two touchdowns from running back Scottie Phillips, it’s clear Phil Longo's offense won't be lacking for playmakers.
Ole Miss faces an uphill climb in the SEC after ending last season 6–6, 3–5 in conference. But it will be hard to blame any shortcomings one their wideouts. There may not be better receving corps in the nation, and there certainly wasn't in the early stages of Week 1.