Former Ole Miss QB Matt Corral Guides Birmingham Stallions To UFL Championship Game

Matt Corral, the former Ole Miss Rebels star, is 60 minutes away from leading the Birmingham Stallions to a third championship.
Mar 30, 2024; Arlington, TX, USA; Birmingham Stallions quarterback Matt Corral (2) drops back to pass against the Arlington Renegades during the second half at Choctaw Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 30, 2024; Arlington, TX, USA; Birmingham Stallions quarterback Matt Corral (2) drops back to pass against the Arlington Renegades during the second half at Choctaw Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports / Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
In this story:

The Birmingham Stallions are headed back to the United Football League Championship. A two-time winner in the USFL, the Stallions will look to clinch the three-peat and become a dynasty of spring football.

In each season, former Louisiana Tech coach Skip Holtz has relied on a different passer to lead the way. In 2022, it was J'Mar Smith. A year later, it was Alex McGough in charge.

This year, despite not starting during the regular season, former Ole Miss passer Matt Corral was the headliner and x-factor in securing a spot in next week's title game.

Corral — who was drafted by the Carolina Panthers in the third round of the 2022 NFL Draft — split reps with Adrian Martinez at the beginning of the season. The former Rebels star had not played a down for the Stallions since April 20, but was asked to pick up the load in the third quarter against the Michigan Panthers this weekend.

One of the UFL's top players, Martinez struggled to find consistency in the first half. At the start of the third quarter, he lost his second fumble, thus becoming his third turnover overall.

Holtz made the switch, and Corral made the most of his appearance.

"My thoughts going into this was to just treat it like every other day," Corral told reporters postgame. "We practice the same plays, same scenarios, each and every day. Coach Holtz does a good job of putting us in place to get done what we've got to get done."

Corral excelled in the 31-18 victory, going 9-for-11 passing for 120 yards and two touchdowns with one interception. Even the interception wasn't on him since the ball bounced off receiver Marlon Williams and into the arms of linebacker Javin White.

Both touchdowns led to PAT conversions, thus giving the defense a chance to regroup and capitalize to close things out.

"I think Matt is a very talented individual, but more than anything, I think today is an unbelievable lesson in resolve," Holtz said. "Not in four quarters of resolve but in two months of resolve, as he has had to stand on the sideline. And yet, he has taken every week in practice, they've split reps to keep them both sharp and ready. It would have been real easy for him to hang his head, sulk, pout, and yet, he's been completely in it and ready for his opportunity."

Mar 30, 2024; Arlington, TX, USA; Birmingham Stallions quarterback Matt Corral (2) drops back to pass against the Arlington Renegades during the second half at Choctaw Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 30, 2024; Arlington, TX, USA; Birmingham Stallions quarterback Matt Corral (2) drops back to pass against the Arlington Renegades during the second half at Choctaw Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports / Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Corral, a two-year starter for the Rebels, threw for 8,281 yards and 57 touchdowns under Lane Kiffin in 2020 and 2021. He also rushed for 1,338 yards and 18 more scores.

Corral might best be known in Oxford for leading the Rebels to their first 10-win regular season finish in program history. He elected to start in the Sugar Bowl against Baylor, but suffered a leg injury in the first quarter that sidelined him for the remainder of the evening in a 21-7 loss.

Holtz said was not yet ready to name a starting QB for the UFL Championship game, but seeing both of Corral and Martinez could be an option following Saturday's win.

"We'll look at this film and put it together," said Holtz.


Published
Cole Thompson

COLE THOMPSON

Cole Thompson is a reporter and columnist covering the NFL and college sports for SI's Fan Nation. A 2016 graduate from The University of Alabama, follow him on Twitter @MrColeThompson