Jeff Scott has two years of experience, but that doesn’t mean his practice time lost because of injury this month is inconsequential.
Scott has taken the “mental reps” as they say, but how much he plays in Saturday’s opener against Central Arkansas will be determined by how he handles practice this week, Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze said.
The bottom line is Scott is on page with the offense, but has missed the contact, and re-learning the contact is a big deal for a running back.
Says RB coach Derrick Nix: “The biggest thing is getting hit, going through full scrimmages. That’s a necessity for a running back. You have to go in and get acclimated to getting hit by guys a lot of times. That’s one of the easiest ways to go out and fumble the ball, if you’re not used to the contact. That’s the biggest thing. I think mentally he’s going to be there. He realizes what we’re trying to do with the offense, but at running back you’ve got to get hit, get a feel for running into linebackers on the blitz or getting ready to hit guys that are coming unblocked with ball-security.”
Had Scott been healthy they entire month he’d have had a challenge on his hands with Randall Mackey’s move to the backfield. As it stands, the depth chart reads Mackey “or” Scott as the starter. Freeze made liberal use of the word “or” sprinkling it 10 times through the first regular season depth chart.
If Scott is healthy, he’ll be a big part of things, and it will be interesting to see he and Mackey on the field at the same time.
Interesting, too, will be how all the backs are used with freshmen I’Tavius Mathers and Jaylen Walton then veterans Devin Thomas and Nick Parker lining up behind Mackey and Scott. Nix says all six backs will have “different roles.”