Scottie Phillips races for 204 yards in his Ole Miss debut as Rebels defeat Tech, 47-27
HOUSTON, Texas — Running back Scottie Phillips told me at Ole Miss Media Day that he could see himself having a 1,000-yard season. A little bold for a junior college transfer who had not yet played a down of Division I football, correct?
Actually, not so bold, it seems.
Phillips, a transfer from Jones County Junior College, rushed for 204 yards on 16 attempts, an average of 12.8 per carry, and scored two touchdowns for the Rebels en route to a 47-27 Ole Miss win over Texas Tech in the AdvoCare Texas Kickoff Classic.
(Click here for box score.)
Throughout spring and fall, the Ole Miss coaches reported on how pleased they were with Phillips’ performance. On Saturday at NRG Stadium in the Rebels’ season-opener, the rest of the world saw why.
The Ellisville, Mississippi native looked both explosive and elusive, rolling to the first 200+ yard performance by an Ole Miss player since Brandon Bolden in 2010.
When asked what he thought of his running back’s performance, head coach Matt Luke was obviously pleased. “The word I’ve been using is ‘cautiously optimistic,’ because I’ve seen a lot of really, really good things in the spring and in fall camp, but it was good to see him,” Luke said after the game.
“He has short, quick bursts, but he also has the breakaway speed that he can finish it when he breaks the one so really, really pleased to see him have some success.”
Ole Miss head coach Matt Luke on Scottie Phillips
While much of the focus is frequently — and deservedly — on the Rebels’ outstanding receiving corps, which includes future NLFers A.J. Brown, D.K. Metcalf, and DaMarkus Lodge, there remained a question as to whether someone would step in at running back and fill the shoes of last year’s 1000-yard rusher, Jordan Wilkins, who now plays for the Indianapolis Colts.
Though it is still early, the Rebels appear to have the answer. The ground game looked solid against an experienced Texas Tech defense that returned 10 starters from last season’s team.
The humble Phillips gave credit to his teammates when asked about his prolific night.
“To be honest, the O-line did a great job of paving the way for me. I just found the hole and ran through it.”
Ole Miss RB Scottie Phillips
Phillips’ debut also bodes well for the Rebels’ clock management aspirations.
“Late in the fourth quarter, we were able to drive the football and burn some clock when we needed to do that, where maybe we haven’t been as good at that in the past,” Coach Luke noted.
“Really, really happy to see that part of the run game when you’ve got to have it, and they know you’re going to run it and (you can) still be able to do it. I thought that was good.”
Coach Matt Luke
So good, in fact, that with 11 games left this season, Phillips only needs to average 73 yards per game to reach 1,000.
Evelyn has covered sports for over two decades, beginning her journalism career as a sports writer for a newspaper in Austin, Texas. She attended Texas A&M and majored in English. Evelyn’s love for Ole Miss began when her daughter Katie attended the university on a volleyball scholarship. Evelyn created the Rebel Walk in 2013 and has served as publisher and managing editor since its inception.