Ole Miss Rebels Need More from Running Game in 2013

Marvin Gentry, USA TODAY SPORTS

The Ole Miss Rebels went 7-6 in 2012 under first-year head coach Hugh Freeze. Quarterback Bo Wallace was the star for the Rebels last season, passing for 2,994 yards and 22 touchdowns, while rushing for 390 yards and eight more scores.

However, Freeze knows that if Ole Miss is to compete in the rugged Southeastern Conference, and specifically in the Western Division, the Rebels must get more from the running back position.

Jeff Scott, a 5-7senior, returns as the starter at the tailback position. Last year, Scott played in 12 games, rushing 197 times for a team-leading 846 yards and six touchdowns. For his career, Scott has 1,804 rushing yards and 15 scores, and he will look to add to that total in 2013.

Freeze got a look at the future in last year’s BBVA Compass Bowl. When Scott went down with an injury, both I’Tavius Mathers and Jaylen Walton made big plays for the Rebels.

Mathers, a 5-11 sophomore, finished last season with 27 carries for 208 yards and a 62-yard scamper in the bowl win over the Pittsburgh Panthers.

Walton, a 5-7 sophomore, rushed 23 times for 118 yards and a score last season. He got the initial call in the bowl game when Scott went down, and he made the most of his chance, rushing 10 times for 56 yards.

While Scott figures to get the majority of the carries for Ole Miss this season, both Mathers and Walton will be counted on to fill the void of the departed Randall Mackey, who rushed for 325 yards last season.

True freshman Mark Dodson, who stands 5-10, may also get a look from the coaching staff this fall. Dodson was the 2012 Tennessee Gatorade Player of the Year, and was rated as a four-star recruit by nearly every recruiting service.

If Freeze can get one of these three players to step up and fill the hole left by Mackey, it will bode well for Ole Miss in 2013.

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