Nix Notes

Derrick Nix said his running backs did a nice job against Alabama. It was one of several keys to victory.

“Solid performance overall,” he said. “I thought our guys executed our game plan well, catching the ball out of the backfield when called upon. They did a good job in the run game, especially in the fourth quarter.

“I was real pleased with them. They did a good job with what they were called upon to do. We’re just looking for more and more each week.”

Ole Miss defeated the Crimson Tide 23-17. This Saturday night the Rebels play at Texas A&M.

Nix said all the running backs have improved as the season has moved on, but he probably does have a couple of third-year veterans that stand out a bit.

“Jaylen (Walton) and I’Tavius (Mathers), they’re kind of my co-No. 1s,” he said. “We’ve got different packages to get Jordan (Wilkins) on the field and to get Mark Dodson on the field. But I feel comfortable with any of those guys.

“We get into the fourth quarter, like this past Saturday, I thought Jaylen was playing really well and had the hot hand. Just wanted to keep rolling with him down the stretch.”

Walton and Mathers got quite a bit of playing time prior to this season. Nix said an unfortunate circumstance vaulted those guys into service quickly.

“You hate for any back to go down,” Nix said. “But when Jeff (Scott) got injured last year, it helped those two really to get more looks, more reps. And it started paying off for them this past spring and going into this season.

“They just feel so much more comfortable compared to their first year here. I wish we could have redshirted both of those guys. But they got thrust onto the scene, and it’s paid dividends for both of them. It really has.”

Nix believes his stable of quality backs is ready for the run as they reach the midpoint of the regular season.

“Yes, going down this stretch, I think we’ve done a pretty good job of trying to substitute guys and just have them all for the long haul. We’re in game six, and right now – knock on wood – they’re all healthy. Having that quality depth that if a guy went down, you’d feel comfortable with any of those guys going into the game and the offense won’t miss a beat.”

Eugene Brazley continues to improve, according to Nix. Akeem Judd will have two full years left after sitting this season, and that is a positive for Nix.

“Eugene Brazley is doing really well. I just don’t have enough footballs to go around right now,” he said. “He’s probably one of my quicker backs. And he’s tough as well. Unfortunately there’s not enough balls to get him in the game plan right now.

“I thought (Judd) was really doing well during training camp. It was just really a fact of need. Right now we’re traveling four or five backs on each road trip. He’s a kid that has two years left. Why go out now and try to use him sparingly when I can maybe get through the season with the guys we have and have him for two full years.”

Nix said the overall offense continues to improve and play well.

“Starting from the first game through now, I think our offensive line has done a remarkable job jelling together. Getting Aaron Morris back has been a big plus for us. I’ve seen our gap games improve. I’ve seen our inside zone game improve. Every week we see some things on tape that give us encouragement going down the stretch.”

The next foe, Texas A&M, will welcome the Rebels to Kyle Field after a stinging loss at Mississippi State. Nix said the Aggies are a solid defensive ballclub.

“Physical. Fast. Starting with the D-Line up front, those guys are athletic,” he said. “One of their defensive ends, No. 15 (Myles Garrett), is sort of like our C.J. Johnson and going against him.

“They’re a team that gives you multiple looks (on defense). It’s going to be a challenge. We need to go out and execute our passing game. And of course we’d like to still be able to run the ball, and we’ll need to be on our game to be able to beat them.”


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