Entering the 2018 season, a star-studded Ole Miss offense had one question mark: could anyone or any combination of someones make up for the production void left by 1,000-yard rusher Jordan Wilkins who is now featuring in the Indianapolis Colts stable of running backs?
Enter, stage right, Scottie Phillips. Phillips, who exploded for explosive run after explosive run in the season-opening Advocare Texas Kickoff at NRG Stadium (Houston, Texas) against Texas Tech. He became the first Rebel running back to cross the 200-yard threshold in a single game since Brandon Bolden ripped through a Fresno State defense in 2010.
4Q, 7:01 | There goes that man again! @scottphill22 with a 44-yard rush down to the 9-yard line, putting him over 200 yards! He's the first Rebel over 200 since Brandon Bolden in 2010.#HottyToddy #ScottieKnows pic.twitter.com/au1SCPF4Gx
— Ole Miss Football (@OleMissFB) September 1, 2018
Phillips’ quick, one-cut style gave a lackadaisical Red Raider defense fits as Ole Miss began turning to him more and more, bursting through for touchdown runs of 39 and 65 yards.
Rushing for 204 yards on 16 carries (12.8 yards per carry), the bulk of his yards came from his explosive runs – five of them, to be exact, for 39, 65, 44, 15, and 12 yards, respectively, accounted for 175 of his 204 yards.
More impressive than the missile-like debilitating flashes through the Texas Tech defense, however, was Phillips’ innate ability to avoid the negative runs – his first carry went for a loss of one yard, but every attempt for the remainder of the game gained positive yards, something that has haunted the Ole Miss rushing attack in recent memory.
Throwing out the outliers – the three massive gains and the one loss of yardage – Phillips gained 57 yards on 12 carries. 4.75 yards per carry will get the job done. Additionally, if the season opener offers any glimmer of the future (which it probably does, even when accounting for a subpar Red Raider defense), Scottie should be good for about one or two explosive runs per game.
We already knew about the Nasty Wide Outs, the stout offensive line led by a future first-round pick, the NFL-promise tight end, and Jordan Ta’amu’s knack for being both efficient and big-play ready. Now, the star-studded offense appears to have another star, this time filling their one question mark. Scottie Phillips could elevate the already-elite offense into rare air, becoming an unstoppable force.
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