HAWAII GROWN: Ta’amu stepping right in at QB

Mississippi quarterback Jordan Ta'amu looked for room to run between Kentucky defensive end Denzil Ware, left, and linebacker Jamar Watson. Photo courtesy the Associated Press/David Stephenson.

In his first two career starts at Ole Miss, junior quarterback Jordan Ta’amu has done something no other Rebel has ever done.

The 2015 Pearl City alumnus threw for a career-high 382 yards and four touchdowns, and hit D.K. Metcalf for the game-winning 7-yard TD throw with 5 seconds remaining to lift the Rebels to a 37-34 win over host Kentucky on Saturday at Kroger Field in Lexington.

Ta’amu completed eight of nine passes on the game-winning drive and finished 31-for-40 overall to set an Ole Miss single-game record (minimum 40 attempts) for completion percentage at 77.5 percent. The previous mark had stood for 20 years.

“Jordan’s calmness from the time he gets up to the time he goes to bed impresses me,” Ole Miss offensive coordinator Phil Longo told reporters after the game. “He is like this the whole time. His poise is a definite asset when he is out there running this offense.”

In two games, Ta’amu has totaled more than 750 yards of offense, becoming the first QB in Rebel history to do so.

Today, he was named the SEC offensive player of the week.

Head coach Matt Luke spoke about Ta’amu during his weekly press conference today.

“You wouldn’t believe it was his second start, especially the way he led that last drive,” Luke said about the Kentucky win. “It’s very impressive. I think he’s earned the respect of the guys in the locker room. The big thing you said was no turnovers. He was calm in the pocket. I think we gave up a sack on the first drive, but he didn’t get rattled on the road. Just very impressive. A lot of credit to him and coach Phil Longo both.”

Luke was then asked if he was surprised about how well Ta’amu has played in his first two starts.

“Not surprised,” Luke said. “I saw his ability to run in practice. Every time we had a scrimmage, he showed he could throw it. What you don’t know is if he can go out there and do it with live bullets flying, and he showed that he can. Not surprised at his ability. Maybe surprised at how well he’s handled the live bullets. You can’t expect a guy to go in there his second start and do that.”

The Rebels are 4-5 and need two wins in their final three games to become bowl eligible.

Ole Miss hosts Louisiana and Texas A&M before closing the season at Mississippi State.

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