By John Macon Gillespie
If there is any player in Ole Miss’ receiver room expected to have a big season, it’s junior Elijah Moore.
In an offense that was hardly pass-first a season ago, Moore hauled in 67 receptions for 850 yards and six touchdowns in 2019, leading the Rebels in both categories. In fact, the rest of the Rebel receivers combined did not have as many touchdowns as Moore on the season, and as a result, Moore was named to the preseason All-SEC team.
The leadup to the 2020 season has been far from normal for Moore and other collegiate athletes, but he hasn’t seen the issues brought on by COVID-19 as obstacles in his preparation for the campaign.
“I feel like with the expansion on the season, we have more time to get ready, but I guess that can only help us,” Moore said in media availability on Monday. “So, I look at that as a positive.”
Moore will be a piece in a new offensive scheme orchestrated by Lane Kiffin, Jeff Lebby and Joe Jon Finley. It is expected that the Rebels’ new offense will be more reliant on the pass than last year’s system, so Moore could be called on even more in 2020.
Moore is a product of St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Fort Lauderdale, and there are four other St. Thomas Aquinas products on the roster of the Florida Gators, who Ole Miss hosts on Saturday in its season opener. Even though he grew up in Florida, Moore doesn’t recall following the Gators much during their championship runs as a youth.
“I didn’t really watch them growing up,” Moore said. “Any team I go against, we don’t take them lightly, so I’m just ready to play.”
The passing game isn’t the only thing that will look different for Ole Miss this season. The defensive side of the ball received a coaching overhaul as well, and Moore was pleased with the changes he saw his teammates on the other side of the ball make as fall camp progressed.
These changes were necessary as Ole Miss’ secondary was hit early in camp with injuries and COVID quarantines. In preparation for Florida quarterback Kyle Trask, the secondary has had to adjust quickly while covering the Rebel receivers.
“They made good adjustments,” Moore said. “We just go out there and try to compete.”
Ole Miss and Florida kick off at 11 a.m. on ESPN this Saturday.