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Ole Miss prepares to face another talented running back in Vandy’s Ralph Webb

Ole Miss prepares to face another talented running back in Vandy’s Ralph Webb

The gauntlet of talented running backs Ole Miss will face this season continues, as the Rebels (2-3, 0-2 SEC) prepare to face another elite tailback this Saturday in Vanderbilt’s Ralph Webb.

Vanderbilt running back Ralph Webb (7) advances against Kansas State during the second half of an NCAA football game at Vanderbilt Stadium in Nashville, Tenn., Saturday, Sept. 16, 2017. (Andrew Nelles, Tennessean.com)

With just five yards Saturday against Ole Miss, Webb will move to No. 15 in the history of the SEC for rushing average. So it’s no wonder Ole Miss head coach Matt Luke has focused on fitting the run gaps in preparation for the game against Webb and the Commodores.

Although Webb rushed last season for a career-high 1,283 yards and 13 touchdowns, the senior has only rushed for 245 yards and three touchdowns on 87 carries throughout six games in 2017. Webb is averaging 2.8 yards per carry—the lowest since his sophomore season (4.2).

Though he has not yet eclipsed the 100-yard mark in a single game this season, Webb has Coach Luke’s attention. In Luke’s mind, Webb has, in the past, more than proven he’s capable of breakout performances.

“The best compliment you can give anyone is consistency, and he’s been a consistently good player for a long, long time,” Luke said about Webb, who rushed for 123 yards and three touchdowns on 20 carries in the Commodores’ 38-17 win over the Rebels last season in Nashville, Tennessee.

To take the physical pounding in this league and to keep going, I’ve got a lot of respect for him as a player and a person.

Coach Matt Luke on Vandy RB Ralph Webb

Shea Patterson takes off against Vandy last year in Nashville. (Photo credit: Joshua McCoy, Ole Miss Athletics)

In the win for Derek Mason’s team last season over Ole Miss, quarterback Kyle Shurmur threw for 273 yards and tossed two touchdowns. The Commodores’ offense tallied 481 yards of total offense, which was one of their best offensive performances against an SEC opponent in both points and yards last season.

The Vanderbilt game was just the second collegiate start for Ole Miss quarterback Shea Patterson, as he was coming off a big road win against Texas A&M the week prior in his first start. Patterson and the Rebels have focused all week on maintaining the faster tempo they exhibited at Auburn and carrying that into the game with Vanderbilt.

“I think building on the second half from the Auburn game,” Luke said when asked what he and his staff were concentrating on this week.

We want to build on that. We want them to walk out there with confidence. We want to build on the positives we saw.”

Coach Matt Luke 

Vanderbilt’s rush defense

Despite Vanderbilt (3-3, 0-3) giving up a total of 1,114 yards in its three SEC games this year, Luke feels the Commodores still have a solid rushing defense. They are giving up an average of 241 rushing yards per game, while Ole Miss is giving up an average of 248.6 yards per game.

“Coach Mason is a good coach and they’re going to be ready to play against us,” Luke said. “We’ve got to watch the tape and attack them where we can attack them. But they have a lot of returning players, and we’ll have our work cut out for us.”

Game info: 

Ole Miss and Vandy will kick off at 2:30 p.m. (CT) in Oxford Saturday. The game will be televised on SEC Network. The Rebels lead the all-time series with a record of 50-39-2, and lead the series at home, 23-6.

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.

About The Author

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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