Objectively Biased with Cody Prewitt
Editor’s Note: Cody Prewitt is a former All American safety for Ole Miss. His intensity, ferocity and talent are well-remembered and always missed. In this column, Cody offers his thoughts on the Rebels’ defense, the outstanding play of quarterback Matt Corral, and the win over the Vols. The Rebel Walk is incredibly grateful to Cody for sharing his time and his insights.
As a whole, the Ole Miss win over Tennessee was, for me, the embodiment of this team solidifying its desire to fight and succeed, and it was headed by Matty’s performance at quarterback.
Matty for Heisman
I remember someone asking me the week before the Louisville game (via The Rebel Walk Forum): “What do you think about Corral being a ‘dark horse’ in the Heisman race?” My response was along the lines of: “I don’t see him as a dark horse. Knowing what I know about him, personally, and having watched season-after-season of him progressing, he is not a ‘dark horse’ in my mind.”
That level of performance from Corral has been on display every game this season and particularly this past Saturday. LSU is hands down the toughest road atmosphere to play in — but Rocky Top is right up there with Death Valley, especially when the Vols are winning like they have been this season.
Seeing Corral in such a hostile environment as he essentially put an injury-plagued team on his back and demanded success supports what I’ve seen in him from the first time I watched him play. He’s a special kid, competing at a high level in a special conference, week after week.
His actions on the field speak for themselves. Matty for Hei2man 🥶
Ole Miss defense
These past few weeks, the Ole Miss defense has played like I expected — they competed with a ‘Bama team so well that I think had our offense performed with its normal productivity, I believe we would have had a great chance to win that game.
Against Arkansas, I suspected a rocky performance for a couple of reasons. First, most defenses need a week to recover after playing the high-powered offenses that Bama regularly produces.
Second, I stopped predicting the Arkansas vs. Ole Miss games a LONG time ago. That game is always a toss-up, no matter how good either team is entering the game. This year I believe Arkansas is a genuinely competitive, quality SEC team.
That being said, our defense was on the field last against the Hogs and did what was necessary to get the “W.” It may have been ugly, but “bend don’t break.”
And this past weekend against a VERY hot UT team that has been on a roll, the Ole Miss defense held the Vols to half their season average in scoring, and that, alone, shows the growth of the unit when compared to last season. And, again, they did so in a very hostile environment. The craziness that occurred at the end of the game made that very clear!
Jake Springer, Cedric Johnson and the team as a whole just showed me what I believed already to be true: We have guys willing and capable of stepping up and productively contributing to our success on the field. And having a team leader as hard-headed and competitive as Matty can inspire players to perform beyond expectations.
Folks may wonder why I bring up leadership every time I talk about football, and this past weekend is a perfect example of why.
That win in Knoxville shows how important, valuable, and necessary consistent leadership is and how critical it is for those leaders to display that sense of urgency in their actions and execution.
We need to get healthy — and, yes, I’ve seen all the stuff questioning Matty’s injury status. To that I say that knowing him personally, his passion reminds me of the passion I played with, which can be both good and bad.
It can be good in that I never missed a game despite having torn labrums since my sophomore year, but it can also be bad in that I probably should have sacrificed playing a game or two to let my body heal.
I say that to say this: The staff will have to be the ones to protect Matty from himself if he does indeed have a real or significant injury, because he will NOT miss a snap if it’s up to him.
Overall take on the win over UT
Seeing how the team performed in an environment like Neyland stadium against a quality UT team should be indicative to anyone of the potential of this team.
The Rebels team we watched Saturday was far from physically healthy, but this is the SEC. We beat each other up week in and week out, so guys have to be able to step up when their name gets called and we did that, as well.
I’m proud of Matty with the responsibility he happily accepted Saturday of leading the offense by recognizing how critical his execution is to its success.
I am very proud of the defense, collectively, for how it has responded after two very difficult weeks that didn’t necessarily favor the Rebels performance-wise on paper. However, looking back at the Bama and Arkansas games, it was not a case where the Ole Miss defense didn’t show up. This is the SEC, and this is a defensive unit that is still finding its identity. In my opinion, they’re very close to pinpointing that identity. Maybe they’re not there yet — but they are close.
Coming out of Sylva Bay Academy, a small private school in Bay Springs, Mississippi, Cody Prewitt was one of 10 players from the 2011 Ole Miss Football signing class who received high school All-America honors. In 2012, Prewitt started every game and finished second on the team with 80 tackles. He helped lead Ole Miss to a 7-6 record and a bowl win over Pittsburgh.
In 2013, Cody played in every game with 11 starts and led the SEC and tied for seventh nationally with six interceptions and finished second on the team with 71 tackles, 13 passes defended, four tackles-for-loss, and two forced fumbles. For his play, he became the 55th first team All-America selection in school history and helped lead Ole Miss to an 8-5 record and a bowl win over Georgia Tech. Cody was named a first-team All-American by both the Associated Press and USA Today. He was named named to the All-SEC first team by the AP, ESPN.com, Sporting News, College Sports Madness, and by the SEC coaches.
In 2014, Cody continued his decorated career at Ole Miss. He became the first player to return to Ole Miss as a first team All-American since Patrick Willis did so in 2006. He played in 13 games in 2014, finishing with 64 tackles on the season, 44 of which were solo. He notched 3 INTs, and had a fumble return for a touchdown against A&M.
In 2014, Cody was named All-America second team (AP, SI.com, CBS Sports, Scout.com, Athlon) • All-SEC first team (consensus) • Jim Thorpe Award Semifinalist (2013 and 2014) • Midseason All-America and All-SEC • Preseason All-America and All-SEC • Week 7 National Defensive Player of the Week (after a 75-yard interception return for a touchdown at Texas A&M) • Helped Ole Miss rank top 15 nationally in total defense (321.2 ypg), opponent 3rd down conversion (31.1) and red zone defense (71.9)