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Lane Kiffin Is Great, But Rebels OC Jeff Lebby Is Just As Critical to Ole Miss Success

The man calling the plays in Oxford has made a name for himself in his first two seasons at Ole Miss.

Ole Miss has one of the most offensive-minded head coaches in the country in Lane Kiffin, but a large portion of the Rebels' offensive credit should be given to their offensive coordinator who works behind the scenes for Kiffin.

Jeff Lebby spent some time as the offensive coordinator at notable programs before joining Kiffin in Oxford for the 2020 season, including Baylor and UCF. Everywhere he's been, however, the pattern has been the same: positive offensive numbers and strong quarterback play.

While he was at UCF as the offensive coordinator in 2019, Lebby's unit ranked fifth in total offense, and quarterback Dillon Gabriel threw for 3,653 yards and 29 touchdowns. Once he got to Ole Miss last season, the Rebels were seventh in the country in total offense after playing a conference-only schedule due to COVID-19.

This isn't to take anything away from Lane Kiffin because Kiffin himself has changed the offensive game in college football in his time as a head coach and coordinator, but a large part of Ole Miss' success when it has the ball should be given to the man in the booth calling the plays.

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Continuity also helps. Entering 2021, Matt Corral had not played back-to-back years under the same offensive coordinator since he enrolled at Ole Miss. Now that he's in a season where he was already familiar with the system, he's a Heisman contender, and Lebby and Kiffin's offense seems to suit the California-native at QB very well. 

So far this season, Corral has thrown for 997 yards and nine touchdowns in the Rebels' 3-0 start, and he's garnered a lot of national attention as a result. Heading into next week's matchup with Bryce Young and Alabama, Corral and Young are the leading candidates for the Heisman according to many projections across the country.

Lebby's name has been tossed around for various head coaching openings since he came to Oxford last season, including the possibility of returning to UCF before Gus Malzahn was announced as the Knights' head coach. It is likely only a matter of time before Lebby leaves Oxford for one of these openings, but, for the time being, he's making noise at Ole Miss and has made the Rebels nationally relevant again.

Ole Miss markets its head coach very well, and it's easy to do so given his personality and Twitter presence, but as Rebel fans enjoy the time Kiffin leads their program in Oxford, they should remember the impact that Jeff Lebby has had on the program thus far and be thankful.

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