First-year coach Hugh Freeze knew he’d be working with low numbers during his first year at Ole Miss, but his recent loss hurts a lot.
When the Rebels open the season against Central Arkansas on Saturday, they will likely be without top running back Jeff Scott, who has battled back issues this fall, Freeze said. Tests were run Wednesday morning, but Freeze said no one was sure what was going on with his back.
Freeze added that there’s still a possibility that Scott could play against the Bears, but he’s heavily leaning toward that not happening.
“I’m not real confident that Jeff will play this Saturday, as of right now,” Freeze said.
Scott was one of Ole Miss’ top overall players in 2011. He led the team with 529 rushing yards and six touchdowns, and added 386 total return yards and another score.
The Rebels will now have to fill Scott’s position by committee Saturday. Randall Mackey, who finally found a home at running back after moving from quarterback to wide receiver, will likely start in Scott’s place. The staff feels as though he might be the team’s most dynamic offensive weapon and could line up at three different positions Saturday.
Behind Mackey, Freeze will rely on true freshmen I’Tavius Mathers, who had a very good fall camp, and Jaylen Walton. Senior Devin Thomas and sophomore Nicholas Parker. For now, Mackey, Mathers and Walton are set to get the majority of the snaps at running back.
“Definitely, those first three we’re going to play,” Freeze said.
Also expected to play are a host of true freshmen. Ole Miss signed 13 in order to save some scholarships for next year’s class, and Freeze said seven or eight freshmen from the 2012 class could play in Saturday’s opener.