The running back situation for the opener | Ole Miss Sports

News that Jeff Scott, the most experienced running back for Ole Miss, continues to be slowed by lingering back pain lowers the chance that he’ll be available for the season opener Saturday against Central Arkansas.

A month ago that would have been cause for great concern, but the move of Randall Mackey to tailback seems like it will be a very good thing given the camp and practice he’s had. The young guys have shown out too, and there are program veterans like Devin Thomas and Nick Parker who also did some good things.

Make no mistake, if Scott’s poor health lingers into the second week, it will be a big blow to the Ole Miss offense.

The opener, though, is against an FCS opponent. Ole Miss is not in a position to take any opponent lightly, but this is not the type of defense the Rebels will face the remaining weeks of the season. Up front, the Rebels’ offensive line will outweigh the Bears’ four-man defensive front by an average of 37 pounds.

Earlier this week running backs coach Derrick Nix told us that all six backs would have “different roles,” and that was when he thought he’d have Scott.

My guess is the opener shapes up with Mackey getting more carries and being a bigger part of the offense that he would have otherwise. Not that he was going to be a small part, but his touches will no doubt increase, and they’ll need to get him prepared for what another game without Scott might mean for him.

As good as the freshmen were in camp, they’ll want to go lightly with them in their first college game. Maybe that plan changes after the sweat breaks, and I’Tavius Mathers and Jaylen Walton have successfully touched the ball a couple of times, but early on, they’ll be looking to see how those two respond.

That could mean a larger role for Thomas and Parker. Maybe those guys would have a big role anyway, but at some point you’re going to run out of snaps.