Brown Comes Up Big vs. Louisiana
Nov. 11, 2017
By Brian Scott Rippee, OleMissSports.com
A.J. Brown caught a ball from Jordan Ta’amu in space near the Louisiana 20 yard line. He turned up field and saw a defender in sight. His initial reaction was to hurdle over the tackler, but thought better of it.
“I was telling my teammates I was going to jump over him because they were tackling so low,” Brown said. “But he was really tall, so I just tried to do something else.”
He improvised, made a jab step to the right but then quickly hopped back three feet to the left as the defender’s ankles quivered and scampered 17 yards down the sideline and dove towards the pylon for a score.
It was one of Brown’s school-record tying 14 catches. He had 185 yards and two touchdowns on the day and was undoubtedly Ole Miss’ biggest asset on the the field offensively. Brown saw a lot of man and bracket coverage from the Ragin' Cajuns, and made them pay the price for electing to use that tactic.
“I was just beating my man one-on-one,” Brown said. “Every time my number got called I made a play.”
The sophomore wide receiver surpassed the 1,000-yard mark receiving on the day and has put together a strong season that has seen him lead the SEC in touchdown catches with nine. Brown is just the third wide receiver to eclipse the 1,000 yard mark receiving and is 138 yards away from breaking the school record for yardage in a single season.
“I loved the look in his in the pre-game,” head coach Matt Luke said. “You could tell he was ready to go. I am really pleased with him. He is a great player who makes a lot of people miss and a lot of tough catches. I am glad he is on my team. He is a tremendous player and tremendous kid.”
Brown was one of nine receivers who caught balls for Ole Miss in the win. His 14 catches was ten more than the closest behind him. He’s not surprised with the amount of man coverage he continues to see despite the success he has had, and points toward the guys around him as the cause of it.
“I am not surprised because there is talent outside of me. D.K., Lodge,” Brown said. “We have have a lot of playmakers.”
Of his 14 catches, 13 came in the opening half as the Rebels torched the scoreboard on their way to a 42 -10 lead at the break. Brown made catches both short and long, averaging 13 per grab. His catch radius is one that gives Ta’amu a little room for error, and also one that makes his definition of open a little different than most.
“If he is one-on-one I feel like he’s open,” Ta’amu said. “I am going to throw him the ball and let him make a play.”
Phil Longo’s offense took a couple of games to set in. There were times where it looked a little awkward and maybe a little stagnant in the run game. What has never wavered in consistency is the passing game and that is largely thanks to targets like Brown.
“He played a great game,” Longo said. “When you get a guy one-on-one like that we are going to throw it to him. He just had one of those days.”
The offense has now set in and is clicking better than it has all season. Brown has been consistently good throughout.
“Players grew up and started handling their business,” Brown said. “Everyone got focused on handling their assignment.”
Brown has five different games this season with 100 yards receiving. Laquon Treadwell holds the record with six, the same guy he tied for receptions in a single game today. The two have similar styles of play and even resemble each other in stature, but Brown is a handful for opposing defense on his own, and will have a pretty good chance at breaking that record in the final two games of the season.
“It was a really big win for momentum,” Brown said. “We are going to play for our seniors next week for their last time in The Vaught. This was big.”
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