In every sport we hear athletes talk about confidence and the important role it plays in their success. You have to believe to achieve.
Well, that was really driven home in listening to I’Tavius Mathers this week.
The Rebels’ sophomore running back, along with fellow sophomore Jaylen Walton, has been a critical component in the arrival of the power run game.
Mathers had 13 carries for 52 yards against LSU and was important on the game-winning drive. His 12-yard run off the left side moved the Rebels comfortably into field goal range, and after that, Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze just kept handing it to Mathers at the middle to set up the proper angle for Andrew Ritter’s game-winning kick.
It was a big finish for Mathers, but before the big finish Mathers had one of two costly fumbles — his coming near mid-field — that helped fuel LSU’s 17-point comeback.
“The coaches show me a lot that they trusted in me, because I had fumbled on the previous possession. That was big. They trusted in me, and that built my confidence back up,” Mathers said.
Mathers is the team’s second-leading rusher with 326 yards and two touchdowns on 48 carries.
Earlier this season the Rebels’ second- and third-leading rushers were quarterbacks Bo Wallace and Barry Brunetti. In the absence of starting tailback Jeff Scott, Mathers and Walton have combined for 647 yards. Walton leads the team with five rushing touchdowns.
The trust shown in him on that crucial series against LSU could pay long-term dividends.
“It gave me a lot of confidence,” he said. “I feel confident in myself and comfortable going out to play on the field.”