A football player’s career – playing the game he loves – passes by fast, in the blink of an eye. A senior only has twelve games – barring injury – to play with his brothers.
The time has now come for seniors at Ole Miss to “Lock the Vaught” one last time for the 2017 season as the Aggies of Texas A&M roll into Oxford for senior night. And they’ve gone through a lot to reach this point.
“(Saturday) is going to be a special night,” Ole Miss head coach Matt Luke said at his weekly press conference. “This is a special group of seniors. This group has been a part of maybe the top three offenses in school history, two New Year’s Six bowl games, and, obviously, they’re the most affected this year by the bowl ban. They didn’t have the opportunity to go to a bowl, but they’ve continued to fight, fighting through injuries. DeMarquis Gates comes to mind [and] Jordan Wilkins, fighting through injuries as seniors. Daronte Bouldin doesn’t get to play, but [he’s] a fifth-year senior who already graduated, the first person in his family to do so. I’m just grateful to these guys.”
“It’ll be an emotional senior night,” Luke added. “We really want to go out there and perform well for this group of seniors.”
The team has dealt with a lot of adversity this season, from losing their head coach prior to fall camp to injuries that could affect the outcome of the season. Against Louisiana, the injury bug bit again as Van Jefferson, Markel Pack and Trey Bledsoe all left the game early.
“Van Jefferson dislocated his elbow, and he will be out this game,” Luke said. “I don’t want to say he’ll be out for the season because we do want to further evaluate him. But he’ll be out this game. Markell Pack and Trey Bledsoe also suffered concussions, and they’re in concussion protocol for this week.”
Over the last two games, the Ole Miss run scheme has progressed, Luke noted, ignited in large party by senior running back Jordan Wilkins.
“I think the running game has been there,” Luke said. “It’s just been the commitment, the decision to commit to the running game and let the O-linemen come off the ball and be aggressive and physical. I think it has helped our offense. We’ve become balanced. It opens some things in the passing game when you have to respect the run game and the safeties have to come down – it creates one-on-one matchups outside. I’m very pleased with where it’s at. Yards per carrying is very important to us, not so much the total yardage. When we do hand it off, we want those runs to be efficient. I think [Wilkins] is over six yards per carry (6.2), and that’s a positive thing.”
Saturday’s gridiron matchup against Texas A&M will kick off at 6 p.m. on ESPN 2.
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