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Ole Miss ground game ranks No. 4 in nation and continues to impress

Ole Miss ground game ranks No. 4 in nation and continues to impress

OXFORD, Miss. – Prior to Saturday’s game against Tulsa, many in the college football world described the Ole Miss rushing attack as a three-headed monster.

But before kickoff, Ulysees Bennett IV was ruled out of the game due to an injury. TCU transfer Zach Evans was sidelined during the game because of a medical issue. That left true freshman Quinshon Judkins to carry the bulk of the running game’s load.

It turns out the last head of that monster is fairly fierce by itself.

Judkins continues to Rumble

Ole Miss currently sits at No. 4 in the nation in rushing offense, averaging 280.5 yards on the ground per game for a 5.79 yard-per-carry average.

Judkins, a Pike Road, Ala., product, ran for 140 yards in the 35-27 win over Tulsa, the most he has rushed for in his young career. He also ran for two touchdowns to match his output a week prior against Georgia Tech.

He leads the team with 429 yards rushing.

For his efforts, Judkins was named the SEC Co-Freshman of the Week by the league office Monday. 

Judkins’ success did not surprise many in the Rebels’ locker room.

“He looked really good, made some good runs,” Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin said. “…[H]e continues to play well, especially for a freshman. In the end, there wasn’t a lot of room to run, so that’s why the quarterback pull and stuff because they were so loaded in tight there.”

After the Rebels’ win over Georgia Tech a little over a week ago, Coach Kiffin had more praise for his young running back.

I think it goes back to in recruiting when I was at that game, the state championship, and he had a ton of carries. And just the way his mentality, how he kept working and grinding away. Then you see it in practice and scrimmages and stuff. Even though he missed some time. He’s just a really elite talent and vision. You ain’t teaching vision. You get really lucky when you have it as a coach, a running back that has it like him. You can see it. The way he makes people miss as they just appear. That’s not coachable.” —

Lane Kiffin on Judkins’ ability

The coach is not the only one impressed. Judkins’ teammates also have enjoyed seeing the freshman’s success.

“I’m not surprised,” wide receiver Jonathan Mingo said.

He practices really hard, and we’ve got a special backfield with him. A lot of people looked over him recruiting wise and I feel like you’re going to hear his name a long time down the road.

WR Jonathan Mingo on Quinshon Judkins

Ole Miss fans hope Judkins can continue to impress as the Rebels host Kentucky this week in the conference opener.

Run, Dart, Run

Another player picked up the running game, although he was not expected to do so. Quarterback Jaxson Dart ran for 116 yards.

“At the end of the day, I give it all I have every time I’m out there,” Dart said. “There’re definitely things that, as I reflect, that I wish I could have back. You know, just some easy mistakes that I don’t usually make. I’m just looking forward to getting better.”

With two running backs nursing injuries, Kiffin would like to see his quarterback be a bit more careful about absorbing hits from defenses, because he knows sometimes Dart has no alternative but to run the ball.

“He’s more physical in the run game than I liked, and I tried to stop him a couple times,” Kiffin said. “We ideally didn’t want to run him so much, and that’s just what they do on the reads, even when it’s not a quarterback read, if they bring an extra guy, he’s got to pull it.”

Next Up

Ole Miss will need all it can get in the rushing attack this week as No. 7 Kentucky comes calling to Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.

The game between the undefeated teams kicks off at 11 a.m.

(Feature image credit: Kiana Dale, Ole Miss Athletics)

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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