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Ole Miss ground game offers formidable test for Golden Hurricane defense

Ole Miss ground game offers formidable test for Golden Hurricane defense

OXFORD, Miss. – When Tulsa visits Ole Miss Saturday, most of the eyes of the country will be on the Golden Hurricane’s nation-leading passing attack.

But in preparation for the game, Tulsa coach Phillip Montgomery has been eyeing the Rebels’ rushing attack.

In three games, Ole Miss ranks fifth in the nation in rushing with 271.7 yards per game. Senior Zach Evans is second in the Southeastern Conference in rushing — only because he is splitting time with other backs including true freshman Quinshon Judkins who ranks third in rushing in the league.

“Everybody’s got their own unique twist to things, I mean I know they’re going to play with a little tempo, obviously they’re playing with two quarterbacks right now,” Montgomery said.

They’ve got three running backs back there that can all, I mean Bentley we played for multiple years, the transfer from SMU, and he’s like their third back coming in. You know they’ve got a true freshman that’s got great vision, that can really roll and then the guy that’s actually leading them in yards and everything else, very, very talented.

Tulsa head coach Phillip Montgomery on Ole Miss ground game

Ulysses Bentley IV has played against Tulsa twice during his time with the Mustangs. In 2020, Bentley ran for 103 yards against the Golden Hurricane.

Yet Montgomery realizes the Rebels’ running attack is dependent on the players up front and the other pieces of the offense.

“They’re big up front, I think every one of them is 6-5, 300 or better and they can bend and move,” Montgomery said. “They’ve got big tight ends adding to that part of it, but also a threat in the passing game. And then you look at their receivers, they’re all 6-2 or better on the outside and those guys can make plays down the field and try to stretch you that way.”

With Ole Miss possessing such weapons, just how does Tulsa expect to compete with the Rebels. Montgomery has an idea in mind – trust his defensive coaches and players.

“We’ve got a lot of faith in our defensive staff and more importantly our guys on the field,” Montgomery said.

We’ve got to do a good job schematically of getting them in the right spots and letting them play. So, our defense has gone against some big tests before, we’ll continue to go through some big tests throughout this year and this is going to be a big one come Saturday.

Tulsa head coach Phillip Montgomery

TULSA TIDBITS

Tulsa actually leads the series against Ole Miss 3-0. But the two teams have not met on the football field since Lyndon Johnson was in the White House.

Quick, what does Tulsa have in common with Notre Dame and Alabama? Tulsa is one of the rare schools who has a nickname that is not pluralized. Tulsa is the Golden Hurricane. They join the Fighting Irish, Crimson Tide, along with teams like Syracuse (Orange), Stanford (Cardinal), Navy (Midshipmen), North Carolina State (Wolfpack), Illinois (Illini) and Tulane (Green Wave).

Tulsa will not be intimidated with the surroundings at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. Last year, the Golden Hurricane played at Oklahoma State and Ohio State in consecutive weeks. They fell to the Cowboys 28-23 and Ohio State won 41-20.

The last time Tulsa knocked off a ranked team was just two years ago when it upset No. 11 UCF 34-26.

Tulsa is also coming off consecutive bowl games. Last season, the Golden Hurricane beat Old Dominion in the Myrtle Beach Bowl and in 2020 fell to Mississippi State in the Fort Worth Bowl 28-26 in a game most remembered by a post-game brawl. That game was also the last time Tulsa played an SEC team.

Steve Barnes
Steve Barnes

Steve Barnes joins The Rebel Walk staff as a senior writer and brings a trifecta of journalistic experience. As a writer, he has covered college sports for Rivals.com, Football.com and SaturdayDownSouth.com as well as served as a beat writer for various traditional newspapers.

He has been a broadcaster for arena football and several national tournament events for the National Junior College Athletic Association as well as hosting various shows on radio.

A former sports information director at Albany (Ga.) State University and an assistant at Troy and West Florida, he has helped host many NCAA conference, regional and national events, including serving five years on the media committee of the NCAA Division II World Series.

Barnes, a native of Pensacola, Fla., attended Ole Miss in 1983-84, where his first journalism teacher was David Kellum. The duo has come a long way since that time.

He will bring a proven journalistic track record, along with a knack for finding the out-of-the-ordinary story angles to The Rebel Walk.

Barnes continues to reside in Pensacola a mere ten minutes from the beach because he does have taste and a brain.

About The Author

Steve Barnes

Steve Barnes joins The Rebel Walk staff as a senior writer and brings a trifecta of journalistic experience. As a writer, he has covered college sports for Rivals.com, Football.com and SaturdayDownSouth.com as well as served as a beat writer for various traditional newspapers. He has been a broadcaster for arena football and several national tournament events for the National Junior College Athletic Association as well as hosting various shows on radio. A former sports information director at Albany (Ga.) State University and an assistant at Troy and West Florida, he has helped host many NCAA conference, regional and national events, including serving five years on the media committee of the NCAA Division II World Series. Barnes, a native of Pensacola, Fla., attended Ole Miss in 1983-84, where his first journalism teacher was David Kellum. The duo has come a long way since that time. He will bring a proven journalistic track record, along with a knack for finding the out-of-the-ordinary story angles to The Rebel Walk. Barnes continues to reside in Pensacola a mere ten minutes from the beach because he does have taste and a brain.

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