Sunday, December 3, 2023

Vols vs. Rebels: A Look at Running Backs

Over the past few weeks, the Ole Miss Rebels have used the ground game to really open up the passing game.
With Ole Miss being able to rush the ball on the ground, the competing defenses played the Rebels more on the line making it easier to find receivers down the field. This season, coach Hugh Freeze and his staff have had good production out of a stable of running backs in Jaylen Walton, I’Tavius Mathers and Mark Dodson.
Walton is leading the team in carrying the rock 49 times for 287 yards and 3 touchdowns, while his teammate Mathers has touched the ball 37 times for 174 yards on 2 touchdowns.
The Vols are lead in rushing by Jalen Hurd who on 84 attempts has gained a total of 374 yards on two touchdowns. Hurd’s counter part Marlin Lane only has 160 yards.
The key to a successful running game is being able to disturb a defense, and the Ole Miss defense has only allowed their opponents to rush for 680 yards through the first six games of the season. UT has allowed their opponents to run for 937 yards.
Ole Miss should be able to get to the secondary of the Vols defense with Walton and Mathers by the fourth quarter wearing down Tennessee defense to provide points to win.
When the Rebels take the field versus the Tennessee Vols on Saturday night, it will be the first time that the Vols are Ole Miss homecoming opponent. If Ole Miss wins against UT, it would give the Rebels its second 7-0 start in program history, the only other being in 1962 when the Rebels went 10-0 and won the national championship.
Kickoff Saturday is set for 6 p.m. on ESPN.
Adam Brown is sports editor of and can be reached at