Akeem Judd takes larger role in leading Ole Miss offense
While most teams view the quarterback as the leader of the offense, the Rebels called upon senior running back Akeem Judd to play a bigger role in the team’s offense last week against then-No. 8 Texas A&M. Judd’s experience was even more important given that Ole Miss was starting a true freshman quarterback.
Judd did not disappoint.
He rose to the occasion and helped remove some of the pressure from Shea Patterson, who made his first official start at the collegiate level when Ole Miss took on the Aggies at Kyle Field in front of 104,862. Judd rushed for 100 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries.
Heading into the game against Texas A&M, running backs coach Derrick Nix explained to Judd how important the running back’s play would be in dictating the offense’s performance.
“I especially challenged him going into last week’s game, going into it with a freshman quarterback just not knowing all the ins and outs. I said, ‘You’ve got to be a lot better’ and give us something we can lean upon during this game with A&M. He showed up.”
Ole Miss running backs coach Derrick Nix on Akeem Judd
Judd has been a workhorse for the Rebels this season. “The week before that he (Judd) showed up, and we’re just looking for more things from him going forward,” Nix said.
Judd’s performance against the Aggies wasn’t the first one where he had a breakout performance. On Homecoming night against Memphis, Judd rushed for 108 yards on 15 carries. Against Georgia Southern, he stifled the Eagles’ defense for 139 rushing yards and one TD on 26 carries.
“We challenged him, as an offensive staff, three or four games ago to be the one-cut, downhill physical presence down the stretch, and he’s been getting better and better every week with that.”
Derrick Nix on Judd
Judd steps up following Kelly’s injury
When senior quarterback Chad Kelly went down with a torn anterior cruciate ligament and torn lateral meniscus against Georgia Southern, it was imperative for Judd to take on more responsibility as a leader of the offense. Judd will need to rekindle some of that magic on the ground against Vanderbilt (4-6, 1-5 Southeastern Conference) on tonight (7:00 p.m., SEC Network) to give Ole Miss (5-5, 2-4) the exact same offensive stability the Rebels had on display against Texas A&M.
Since Kelly’s season-ending injury, Judd’s foot has been squarely on the gas pedal for the Rebels’ offense.
“He’s been solid all year, but I wanted him to take a little bit more of the burden on his shoulders and say, ‘Hey I’ve got to do a little more,’” Nix said of Judd, who leads the team in rushing yards (656) and rushing TDs (six).
Jordan Wilkins remains active with the Rebels
Despite remaining academically ineligible due to an administrative error before the season began, Jordan Wilkins continues to be an active part of the Ole Miss Rebels Football program, helping the other running backs improve in certain areas whenever needed.
Nix mentioned how well Wilkins has handled the situation and what he has brought to the team.
“Really well. Being like a pro. He’s been down with our defense giving them a great look every week being whatever back he has to be. He comes with me the early part of practice to keep up to speed of what we’re doing on offense. He’s been great, really great.”
Derrick Nix on Jordan Wilkins
On Tuesday, Nix was asked if there is a possibility Wilkins could return for a bowl game and, so far, he is not ruling anything out.
“No doubt about it, but we’ll cross that bridge when we get there,” Nix said. “We’ve got to get to six first, and then we’ll talk about it as much as you want.”
(Feature image credit: Dan Anderson, The Rebel Walk)
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.