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Brazley, Judd help Ole Miss establish balanced running attack in win over Memphis

by | Oct 4, 2016 | Football, Ole Miss | 0 comments

Eugene Brazley scored two touchdowns in the 48-28 win over Memphis. (Photo credit: Josh McCoy, Ole Miss Athletics)

Eugene Brazley scored two touchdowns in the 48-28 win over Memphis. (Photo credit: Josh McCoy, Ole Miss Athletics)

OXFORD, Miss. – Week after week this season, Ole Miss has tried to establish a steady running game to give its offense some balance. After Saturday night, the Rebels may have found what they have been looking for in the combination of running backs Akeem Judd and Eugene Brazley.

For the first time this season, Rebels’ head coach Hugh Freeze could actually say with a smile that he was pleased with the running attack he saw in Saturday’s contest against Memphis.

The Tigers entered the game against Ole Miss giving up an average of only 107.3 rushing yards per game.

Gaining ground against Memphis

Brazley and Judd each surpassed the Tigers’ average rushing defense total, gaining 124 and 108 yards, respectively—the first game since 2014 that Ole Miss had two 100-yard rushers. Brazley added two rushing touchdowns and seemed to have an easy time finding the open lanes the offensive line created for him.

Afterwards, Freeze indicated Brazley was perhaps the best-equipped of the Rebels’ backs for the game plan No. 16 Ole Miss (3-2, 1-1 Southeastern Conference) prepped for Memphis.

We worked very hard on a check system that would get us hopefully into the soundest play against them. What we ended up getting, Eugene is a little better at, is that he is a little more patient and has a little more of a burst once he hits that crease. I’m excited for him. He’s a great guy and he’s waited his turn.

Hugh Freeze on Eugene Brazley

Saturday’s 48-28 Homecoming win over the Tigers (3-1) wasn’t the first time Brazley has shown his ability to break to the outside for big runs. The junior out of New Orleans, Louisiana rushed for a career-high 98 yards on six carries in last season’s 52-3 Homecoming win over New Mexico State, including a 78-yard sprint for the final score of the game.

In the Rebels’ season-opener against UT-Martin, Brazley rushed for a team-high 88 yards on six carries, including his first career TD on a 70-yard sprint in the final quarter.

But despite the big runs and the 9.5 yards averaged per carry against Memphis, Brazley felt he could have done some things differently.

I thought I could’ve blocked better and I also think I’ve got to finish more runs, too. I also just have to be more patient. On some runs I think I got out too quick and Coach (Derrick) Nix got on all the running backs about walking into certain plays. But really my blocking. I let the quarterback get touched too much on certain plays.

Eugene Brazley

Akeem Judd rushed for 108 yards in the Rebels' victory over Memphis. (Photo credit: Josh McCoy, Ole Miss Athletics)

Akeem Judd rushed for 108 yards in the Rebels’ victory over Memphis. (Photo credit: Josh McCoy, Ole Miss Athletics)

As a result of the improved running game, Chad Kelly’s job at quarterback was easier than what it had been in the first four games this season.

Kelly was only sacked once and was given the appropriate time to get an accurate pass off. The Rebels’ signal-caller completed 30-of-44 passes for 361 yards, one TD and one interception.

Though Kelly put up his usual impressive numbers, it was the running attack of Ole Miss that stood out.

Judd came close to scoring two rushing TD’s himself, but landed out of bounds on a seven-yard run to the Memphis’ one-yard line on the team’s first drive of the first quarter and on a 53-yard burst to the Tigers’ three-yard line in the third quarter.

Quarterback Jason Pellerin scored on the team’s first drive off a one-yard run. Kicker Gary Wunderlich nailed a 23-yard field goal after the Rebels failed to get into the end zone on four attempts following Judd’s big run.

Backs who have influenced Brazley 

Following the game, Brazley was asked what running backs have influenced him and his style. “I would say I love Walter Payton, and in this era I would say I love Jamaal Charles, that’s my top running back right now who I watch,” Brazley said.

“I watch all of them, though, because you can learn different things from different running backs. All of them are good, so you’ve just got to watch each one because all of them do different things.”

Next Up:

The Rebels have an upcoming bye week and will then face Arkansas at 6:00 p.m. (CT) on October 15th in Fayetteville. The game will be televised on ESPN.

(Feature image credit: Josh McCoy, Ole Miss Athletics)

Courtney Smith
Courtney Smith

Courtney is from Memphis and received his Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts from the University of Memphis in May of 2014. He began his journalism career covering the Memphis Tigers Men’s basketball team, which landed him an intern position on 730 Yahoo Sports Radio and a position with Rivals.com. A freelance writer for the Associated Press, Courtney is also a member of The Rebel Walk team and reports regularly on Ole Miss football and basketball. Courtney, the father of a six-year old girl named Soniyah, prefers to cover NCAA basketball and football, but is happy to report on any other sport that comes his way.

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