Objectively Biased with Cody Prewitt: Ole Miss defeats A&M, 31-28
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. We are blessed to have Cody sharing his time and insights.
OXFORD, Miss. — Before I get started, I want to first point out the brazen confidence with which I posted before and during the Rebels’ 31-28 win last Saturday over A&M — because I knew we would win that game.
I’m excited to see who’s going to step up and #Lead the #LandsharkD tonight ..
We are NOT losing this game 😤😤#LFG 🔥 #LeadFromTheFront 🦾#WAOM 🔴🔵🔴🔵
— Cody Prewitt (@codyprewitt25) October 30, 2022
That being said, I do have an admitted emotional investment in our game against TAMU every year — especially when it is played in College Station.
I also had full faith in this team to overcome the adversity it faced throughout the entire game against the Aggies.
Anyway… Hotty Toddy!! We are 8-1 and have most definitely earned every single one of those eight wins. Let’s take a look at the most recent one.
The offense came out swinging against the Aggies, and while the OBVIOUS and UNDENIABLE standout performance of the game came from Quinshon Judkins (a true freshman…) with 34 carries for 205 yards, putting him over the 1000-yard mark on the season, there are other aspects of the offensive performance that also deserve to be highlighted.
For the second game in a row I have been beyond impressed with the composure quarterback Jaxson Dart has displayed in two very hostile SEC road environments.
When you look at the statistics on paper, I can see where some might argue the numbers could be interpreted as a little ‘underwhelming’ when compared to the extreme levels of productivity we have been used to seeing the last couple seasons at the QB position.
However, these stats do not paint an accurate picture of just how productive and impressive Dart has been, particularly in these last two road SEC games.
Texas A&M really does have top-tier talent on its team at all positions, and this includes the Aggies’ defensive line unit. Their d-line was able to put fairly consistent pressure on Dart during the game Saturday, enough pressure for me to come to the conclusion that there are not too many sophomore QB’s who could have managed that kind of onslaught, in that hostile of an environment, with the same stoic productivity Dart displayed.
That composure is, however, evident on paper in that all three passing touchdowns were to three separate receivers: Dayton Wade, Jonathan Mingo, and Casey Kelly. I am aware that Coach Lane Kiffin is most definitely a brilliant offensive mind and can probably draw up plays to cater to almost any QB, but it is still on the players, themselves, to execute and that’s just what these Rebs did.
Dart has executed beyond my personal expectations for any sophomore quarterback in environments as intense as I personally know Death Valley and College Station to be.
While discussing the passing game, I must give a huge shout out to tight end Casey Kelly. Game after game, play after play, we have all watched Casey assist in blocking for two of his teammates, arguably the best running back duo in the country. Casey does the not-so-glamorous part of his job well, and I have never once seen him without a smile on his face.
Michael Trigg, out with a broken collarbone, is an incredible asset at the tight end position and he has been missed. But I think we should all be proud and grateful for Casey’s attitude when asked to step up. Seeing him haul in that TD reception Saturday was exciting and he deserves all the praise for that.
CASEY KELLY TOUCHDOWN!!!!@JaxsonDart ➡️ @caseykelly1211 pic.twitter.com/NVD9Th9GgH
— Ole Miss Football (@OleMissFB) October 30, 2022
I love to watch that kind of work ethic and humility pay off for anyone, but particularly for the guys I know work their butts off and sometimes get overlooked.
Another example of a guy stepping up and making a difference is wide receiver Dayton Wade who notched his second career touchdown reception as a Rebel on the opening drive of the game.
Wade has made his presence known progressively over the course of the season, and on Saturday his touchdown reception helped cap off an opening drive that ultimately set the tone for our offense and the exceptional performances of more than a few of his teammates on that side of the ball.
you gotta love seeing Dayton Wade get a TD pic.twitter.com/7IpjcFhPsR
— We Run the Sip (@OMRebelNation) October 29, 2022
With respect to the running backs, there is not much else I can say in regards to Judkins’ performance. It literally speaks for itself, and I would not be surprised, whatsoever, if Ole Miss has a running back for a Heisman candidate in the next 2-3 years.
The one where Quinshon Judkins decided to end Texas A&M pic.twitter.com/0vzio7MgVj
— We Run the Sip (@OMRebelNation) October 30, 2022
As for the other half of our dominant RB duo, I was happy to see Zach Evans back from injury and making plays as he always does. When I compare this week’s SEC road win in front of 100,000 people and last week’s SEC road loss in front of 100,000 people, I believe having his presence on the field made a noticeable difference to the confidence of the Ole Miss offense.
As I mentioned earlier, TAMU absolutely has just as much, if not more, talent on its team as the LSU team we lost to last week in a similarly-hostile environment; the most notable difference on offense between that game and this week’s game was the presence of Evans.
welcome back, zach evans pic.twitter.com/FCRnIWXhO8
— Not Ole Miss Problems (@OleMissNoProb) October 30, 2022
I looked at all of the variables between the LSU loss and the A&M win in an attempt to analyze what I consider to be two very comparable environments. Having Evans on the field in College Station, to me, seemed to provide the offense with a sense of confidence that was not quite as present during the LSU game.
Keeping that in mind, having this bye week to get as many players healthy — including Evans — for what will be a very big SEC West matchup against Bama couldn’t have come at a better time in the season.
Bend, Don’t Break.
Those three small words accurately sum up the Rebels’ defense Saturday, and that is absolutely a good thing.
In the SEC every team has talent, and every team has the potential to ‘upset’ any team on any given Saturday. TAMU is definitely a great example of this.
I must acknowledge the performance of the Aggies’ true freshman QB, Connor Weigman, on the biggest stage in his career up to that point. Obviously, he was not alone in the Aggies’ effort to send us home with a loss. I could also name more than a few players who stood out to me and were making plays in several positions, but, again, that is just the SEC and players make plays.
On every good defense I have ever been a part of, the phrase “Bend, Don’t Break” has been a component of that defense’s vocabulary — and Saturday the Landshark D illustrated that phrase exceptionally.
Just like I compared the offense’s performance this week to their performance in Death Valley last week, I believe it necessary to make similar comparisons on the defensive side of the ball.
The first part of the game against A&M started off leaving a bit to be desired, defensively. We we were making similar mistakes as I recall us making during the majority of the LSU game, and during some of the other games this season when an opposing offense was having success.
Most, if not all, of those mistakes stemmed from a lapse in playing disciplined football and simply not tackling well. Having seen that this defense is more than capable of doing both of these things to execute at a high level, I would say the consistency at which we do execute at a high level can be attributed to leadership and accountability.
I know there are leaders on this defense, so the only real critique I have is for that leadership and those leaders to not be hesitant in holding their teammates accountable each and every play.
Now to circle back around to comparing this game to the LSU game — one of the most notable differences this week, to me, came when the Aggie offense was starting to get some solid momentum.
I watched one of our leaders step up and make a play that stopped the bleeding before things got out of hand. This single play helped change the trajectory of the game.
At around 12 minutes left in the second quarter, with the Aggies going for it on fourth down, safety AJ Finley made an open field tackle, a tackle for loss, and I could see the collective demeanor of the defense switch from having its weight on its own heels, just trying to avoid getting punched, to shifting that weight back to its front foot and being the one to deliver the punches.
Jimbo: Hey, I’ve got swag. I can be a fourth-down guy. I can play that game.
— David Walker (@DavidWalkerQB) November 3, 2022
That is not to say the Rebels were without good plays on defense in Death Valley, but we did not have a play that seemingly reminded the defense of its identity the same way this particular play did.
After AJ’s stop, there were countless big plays in the game against A&M, but if I were to list off every single one of them, you’d get tired of reading and my hands would get tired of typing, so I will keep if brief by sticking with the fact that TAMU did not score again until the 4th quarter.
That success cannot be attributed to one single player as it takes 11 guys doing their job on every single play to make the necessary stops against a team as talented TAMU in order to beat them — especially at home. That is why “Bend, Don’t Break” is the phrase that comes to mind for the defense this game.
Looking at the game as a whole (offense, defense, and special teams), this win in College Station was really an overall good display of complimentary football from all three phases of the Ole Miss team.
The Rebs are 8-1. We have 2 weeks to get healthy for a game I know the coaches and players will prepare for and leave no stone left unturned.
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)