Three takeaways from Ole Miss’ win over Troy
The Ole Miss Rebels are now 1-0 after their 28-10 win over the Troy Trojans Saturday at Vaught-Hemingway. Here are three takeaways from the contest.
Ole Miss linebackers exceeded expectations
Coming into the year, this linebacker corps was labeled by many as the “weakest link” of this defense but in this game, they were some of the most dominant players on the field.
Troy Brown was flying all over the field and making plays while Khari Coleman looked like an NFL linebacker for much of the game.
The two finished with the most tackles on the team. Brown recorded eleven while Coleman finished with eight, seven of them resulting in a loss of yards and he added two sacks to his career day as well. They were elite against the run and held their own defending the passing game as well.
While he didn’t blow up the stat sheet like the other two did, I thought Austin Keys made some really good plays as well and looked confident and composed out there. If the linebacker unit can continue to play this way, this Ole Miss defense has a good chance to be one of the best in the SEC.
Rebel running back room is going to be one of best in the country
I had a good feeling based off of what I’ve seen at practice that this running back group was going to be elite. Today they proved me right, and then some.
The Rebels finished with 266 yards rushing and it could have been a lot more. Zach Evans showed how quick and elusive he is. There were several instances where he made a cut that nearly resulted in a touchdown.
He is one broken tackle or one juke away from breaking out a big run anytime he’s on the field. He ran for over 100 yards in the first half and finished with 130, and I’d be really surprised if he doesn’t reach 100 in most of the games this season. Not to mention he caught two passes for 22 yards and it’s clear he is going to be used in the passing game, something that will only help Ole Miss’s young quarterback in the future. Evans is a generational running back talent.
What makes this running back room so scary is the fact that true freshman Quinshon Judkins already looks like a future pro after one college football game, and Ulysses Bentley could be starting for several other SEC teams.
Judkins finished with 87 yards on just 14 carries. It’s fascinating to see how comfortable he is in just his first season. If he can get a crease it’s going to be a big gain more times than not. He seems to be a very physical back but can showcase top-tier speed as well. He is truly the full package, and I wouldn’t be surprised he ends up being one of, if not the best, running back to ever attend The University of Mississippi by the time his career is done.
Bentley only got two carries but made a really tough play look easy on the touchdown he scored. Bentley has consistently flashed in practice and while he didn’t get much action in this game, I expect him to help the team as the season goes along.
Quarterback Competition Continues
The Rebels’ quarterback competition continues on. While Jaxson Dart didn’t necessarily overwhelm with his performance, he showed signs of being able to develop into the quarterback this team needs him to be.
There’s obviously a lot of pressure on him to succeed, and he’s handling it as well as one could expect. I thought he got better as the game carried on. He looked sharp on the first drive coming out of the half and I thought that was a big indicator of his character as he was able to shake off his less than ideal first-half performance.
Altmyer came in late in the game and saw limited action. He will have his chance to start next weekend.
After the game, Coach Kiffin explained Altmyer will take the field first in next Saturday’s contest vs. Central Arkansas.
“Talked to both of them, just said this thing is so even, it’s not fair of us to just pick one because it’s so even; we just need to see you play… we are going to go first with one today and then first with the other one. Luke will go first next Saturday. I just didn’t want to do the one game one game thing because I wanted them to both play in both and both have a chance to start and both have a chance to come off the bench. This didn’t go ideally in the second half the way that we liked with the last two series with Jaxson. Really was going to switch after the series with Jaxson, but he threw the interception, and I don’t like pulling him after that and wanted to give him another chance, so it wasn’t his last feeling of the day.“
Lane Kiffin on the QBs
For anyone questioning whether the young quarterbacks will grow and develop, I think it’s really important to remember they are only 19 years old with a ton of room to grow. That will come as they gain more experience. Lane Kiffin has a reputation for developing quarterbacks and this will be no exception.
Remember when Matt Corral was 19? He was obviously incredibly talented, but even he had room to grow and improve — all the way to the NFL.
(Feature image credit: Josh McCoy, Ole Miss)
Dillon is from Yazoo City, Ms. He is a senior journalism major pursuing a career in sportswriting. He grew up an Ole Miss fan and has always followed Ole Miss sports as well as the Dallas Cowboys and Atlanta Braves. He played football and basketball in high school and enjoys spending time with friends and family.