Ole Miss football game notes – Texas A&M
Photo credit: Ole Miss Athletics
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
• Ole Miss and Texas A&M will be meeting for just the 14th time in a series that started in 1911.
• Texas A&M leads the all-time series vs. Ole Miss 9-2 … The original record is 9-4 in favor of A&M, with wins in 2014 and 2016 by Ole Miss vacated due to NCAA ruling.
• Texas A&M holds a 3-0 edge in games played in Oxford, Miss, with the wins in 2014 and 2016 being wiped out.
• The Rebels check in at No. 12 in AP Top 25 and No. 15 in the Coaches Poll.
• 55 of the 125 players (44 percent) on the Rebel roster are newcomers and are in their first season at Ole Miss.
• Ole Miss is the only team in the country with more than 3,500 total yards and 2,000-plus rushing yards.
• The Rebels are averaging 20.3 seconds per play this season, the third-fastest average in FBS behind only Indiana (19.1 spp) & SMU (20.0 spp).
• Ole Miss leads the FBS with 26 total rushing touchdowns, and ranks in the top five in the FBS in total rushing yards (2,016), yards per game (252.0) and total attempts (367).
• The Rebels are second in the SEC and No. 10 nationally converting on third downs 52.3 percent of the time.
• Quinshon Judkins leads all freshmen nationally in both rushing touchdowns (12) and rushing yards (831).
• Judkins’ 12 rushing TDs rank sixth-most in program history and are tied for the most ever by any Rebel freshman.
• WR Jonathan Mingo is second in the SEC and ranks No. 4 in FBS in yards per reception (22.2).
• QB Jaxson Dart is fifth in the FBS in passing yards per completion (14.9).
• CB Deantre Prince is allowing a catch just 34.5 percent of the time when targeted, the 12th-best percentage in the FBS.
• K Jonathan Cruz is 8-for-9 on field goal attempts and ranks second in the SEC in field goal percentage (.889).
OLE MISS HEAD COACH LANE KIFFIN
Lane Kiffin (Fresno State, 1998) is in his third season at Ole Miss and helped lead the Rebels to back-to-back bowl appearances in his first two years in Oxford. Kiffin guided the Rebels to a 10-3 record in 2021, the first 10-win regular season in school history. That included a perfect 7-0 mark at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, part of an ongoing 14-game home win streak for Kiffin’s teams. The Rebels finished the season ranked No. 11 in both the AP and AFCA Coaches Poll; its highest final ranking since 2016. Ole Miss ranked top-20 in the FBS in nine different offensive categories in his first season, including having the No. 3 team in the country in total offense, shattering the school record with 555.5 yards per game. Kiffin is in his 11th year at the NCAA level and has posted an all-time record of 76-42. In December 2016, Kiffin took over an FAU program that had won a total of nine combined games over the previous three seasons. Kiffin proceeded to take the Owls to new heights over the last three years, including two conference titles and two 10-win seasons. In his head coaching stops at USC, Tennessee and FAU, Kiffin has shown a propensity in helping turn programs around. Kiffin graduated from Fresno State in 1998 after playing quarterback for three seasons (1994-96) for the Bulldogs. He began his coaching career as a student assistant at Fresno State under Pat Hill in 1997 and 1998.
TEXAS A&M HEAD COACH JIMBO FISHER
Jimbo Fisher currently serves in his fifth season as head coach for the Texas A&M football program, holding a record of 37-18 during his stint in College Station. Under Fisher the Aggies have appeared in four consecutive bowl games, including capturing a win at the 2021 Orange Bowl over North Carolina. Fisher has had the Aggie defense clicking on all cylinders in 2022, as Texas A&M will enter its matchup with the Rebels ranked as the No. 3 red zone defense (65.2%), No. 12 passing defense (174.4) and No. 22 scoring defense(19.6) in the nation. Prior to taking on his current head coaching role at Texas A&M, Fisher served a total of eight seasons as head coach of the Florida State football team, coaching the Seminoles to an 83-23 record. Fisher was able to reach the pinnacle of college football in 2013, leading the Seminoles to a BCS National Championship Game victory as well as coaching the season’s Heisman Trophy winning quarterback, Jameis Winston.
AGGIES SCOUTING REPORT
The Rebels will head into Kyle Field to to take on a Texas A&M team that currently sits 3-4 in 2022, including having a 1-3 record in SEC play. The Aggies are coming off of a tightly contested 24-30 loss against their in-conference foe of South Carolina, where the team’s leading passer and starting quarterback Haynes King went down midway through the contest with an injury. In the event King will be unable to suit up for the team’s matchup against the Rebels, Ole Miss can expect to see true freshman Conner Weigman lead the Aggies in his first collegiate start at quarterback. Weigman finished his collegiate debut against South Carolina going 8-of-15 passing for 91 yards in relief of King. The Aggie offense will also lean heavily upon running back Devon Achane, who currently ranks third in the SEC in rush yards per game, averaging 89.6. Leading-tackler Antonio Johnson anchors the Aggie defense, with the defensive back totaling 48 total tackles in 2022. Accompanying Johnson in the Aggie secondary is sophomore Jardin Gilbert, who has brought in both of the team’s interceptions on the year while also tallying 47 tackles this season. Texas A&M’s front seven is headlined by the duo of Chris Russell Jr. and Fadil Diggs, combining to make 10.5 TFLs and 5.5 sacks along with forcing four fumbles in 2022.
OLE MISS-TEXAS A&M SERIES HISTORY
• Ole Miss and Texas A&M will be meeting for the 14th time in a series that started in 1911.
• Texas A&M leads the all-time series vs. Ole Miss 9-2.
• The original record is 9-4 in favor of A&M, with wins in 2014 and 2016 by Ole Miss vacated due to NCAA ruling.
• The Aggies hold a 3-0 edge in games played in College Station … Original record is 3-2 with Ole Miss wins in 2014 and 2016 vacated due to NCAA ruling.
• This is the 10th time the Rebels and Aggies have squared off since Texas A&M joined the SEC in 2012.
The prolific Ole Miss rushing rolled full steam ahead vs. Auburn. The Rebels rushed for 448 yards, the most against an SEC opponent since 1951. Quinshon Judkins (139 yds), Zach Evans (136 yds) and Jaxson Dart (115 yds) all surpassed the 100-yard plateau. It marked the first time Ole Miss has had three 100-yard rushers since 1975 (Tennessee) when Paul Hofer, James Reed and Michael Sweet all topped the 100-yard plateau vs. the Volunteers.
REBS IN THE POLLS
• Ole Miss ranks No. 12 in the Coaches Poll and No. 15 in the Associated Press Poll.
• Dating back to last season, Ole Miss has been ranked in the top 25 for 25 straight weeks, which is its longest streak since being ranked for 41 straight weeks that stretched from 2014-16.
• Ole Miss has ranked as high as No. 7 this season, its highest since ranking No. 3 in Week Five of 2015.
• The SEC boasts seven teams in the top 25, including three teams ranked inside the top 10.
POUND THE ROCK
Ole Miss isn’t just running the ball well, it’s running the ball a lot. The Rebels stand as the lone FBS team with 3,500 yards of total offense (3,924) and 2,000 yards rushing (2,017), as well as the only Power-5 team beyond the 2,000-yard plateau rushing. Ole Miss leads all FBS schools in rushing touchdowns with 26, two more than the next Power-5 school on the list, Georgia (24). Removed one year from having one of the most feared passing attacks in college football, Ole Miss now sits as one of just two Power-5 programs (alongside Michigan) to have 3,000 yards of total offense while running the ball more than 50 percent of the time. Ole Miss ranks second among all Power-5 schools in rushing offense percentage (51.4 percent), as well as fifth in percentage of rushing plays run against total plays (62.6 percent).
Ole Miss has run a lightning-quick offense, currently leading the SEC and ranking third among FBS schools in seconds per play at 20.3 — trailing only Indiana (19.1) and SMU (20.0). That rapid pace has helped spur the Rebels into one of the more explosive offensive units around, currently ranking 12th in the FBS in total plays (587) and fourth in first downs (202). Ole Miss also leads the SEC in both categories.
BIG PLAY POTENTIAL
The Rebels continue to be one of the best teams in the country in explosive plays, currently leading all FBS teams with 56 plays of 20 yards or more this season. In total, Ole Miss has tallied 135 plays of 10 or more yards this year, ranking tied for 10th among all FBS schools. The Rebels average 16.9 such plays per game.
BIG LEG JON
K Jonathan Cruz is 6-of-8 in his collegiate career on field goals from 50 yards or more, including a 53-yard FG vs. No. 7 Kentucky. Cruz’s kick tied for the sixth longest kick in school history and the longest since 2012 (Bryson Rose vs Arkansas). A transfer from Charlotte, Cruz holds the 49ers’ school record with five field goals made 50-plus yards, including a program-best two 56-yard field goals. He also has had 25 of his 43 kickoffs in 2022 go for touchbacks.
True freshman Quinshon Judkins has made an immediate impact for an Ole Miss offense that leads the SEC and ranks No. 3 nationally in rushing yards per game (252.1 ypg). Judkins ranks top 16 nationally in total touchdowns (2nd, 13), total points (3rd, 78), rushing touchdowns (4th, 12), rushing yards (12th, 831), scoring (12th, 9.8/game) and rushing yards per game (16th, 103.9). Judkins also leads all FBS freshmen in rushing yards by 188 over Baylor’s Richard Reese (643), while also leading freshmen in yards per game and rushing touchdowns. Judkins’ 44 missed tackles forced ranks seventh in FBS, according to Pro Football Focus. Judkins’ 12 rushing touchdowns are tied for the most ever by an Ole Miss freshman with John Rhys Plumlee’s 12 from 2019, and also rank as the most by any SEC freshman since Plumlee in 2019. He has scored a TD in seven of his first eight collegiate games, including 11 in his last six games. Judkins has more yards through eight games than any Rebel since at least 1979 in available game-by-game data.
CLIMBING UP THE RANKS
Quinshon Judkins has quickly proved himself one of the best rushers in Ole Miss single-season history, and he is now starting to rise up the all-time Rebel season lists as a response. In addition to ranking as the most by any Rebel rusher since at least 1979, Judkins’ 831 yards on the ground rank 18th on the single-season rushing yards list at Ole Miss. His season average of 103.9 rushing yards per game currently puts him within range of No. 17 John Avery (1997, 862), No. 16 Dou Innocent (1995, 868 yards), No. 15 Joe Gunn (2001, 870 yards), No. 14 Dou Innocent (1994, 910 yards) and No. 13 Scottie Phillips (2018, 928 yards). Judkins is also rapidly rising up the single-season rushing touchdowns list, currently ranking tied for sixth and tied for the Ole Miss freshmen record with 12 scores. Judkins has tied the single-game school record with five games with multiple rushing touchdowns, becoming just the third Rebel to ever do so behind Brandon Bolden (2010) and Deuce McAllister (1999, 2000). Judkins has also done so in three consecutive games, becoming the first Rebel to do so since Bolden did in four straight in 2010.
The Rebels started 2022 off 7-0 before a loss at LSU on Oct. 22, just the fourth 7-0 start overall in Ole Miss football history (and fifth statistically when factoring NCAA vacated wins). In the record books, this was the best start by a Rebel team since the national champion 1962 squad finished with a perfect 10-0 record. The 2014 Ole Miss team started 7-0 and finished 9-4 overall, but its wins were later vacated by NCAA ruling.
Ole Miss’ powerful rushing attack ranks among the best in the nation in 2022, leading the FBS in rushing touchdowns (26) and within the FBS top-16 in total rushing yards (3rd, 2,017), yards per game (3rd, 252.1), total attempts (4th, 367) and yards per rush (16th, 5.49). In its win over Auburn, Ole Miss rushed for 448 yards on 69 carries. The 448 rushing yards were the most by a Rebel squad since 1962 (fifth-most all-time) and the second-most ever against an SEC opponent.
Freshman Quinshon Judkins and TCU transfer Zach Evans have combined for a lethal one-two punch for Ole Miss’ rushing attack. Judkins has carried the ball 146 times for 831 yards and 13 total TDs. Evans has registered 100 carries for 605 yards and eight total touchdowns. Judkins’ 103.9 rushing yards per carry leads all freshman backs and ranks No. 16 in the FBS. Judkins and Evans are the only pair of teammates in the country with more than 600 yards rushing on the season.
BY LAND OR BY AIR
The Rebels have held a fearsome rushing offense throughout the 2022 campaign, but a bombastic aerial showing against Vanderbilt put Ole Miss right into the discussion nationally as a feared passing attack as well. Ole Miss is currently the only school in the FBS with a single-game 440-yard passer (Jaxson Dart, vs. Vanderbilt, 448 yards), a 240-yard receiver (Jonathan Mingo, 247 yards, vs. Vanderbilt) and a 140-yard rusher (Quinshon Judkins, vs. Tulsa, 140 yards). Ole Miss is also currently one of just five FBS schools to have a 700-yard rusher (Judkins, 831 yards, No. 12 FBS) and a 500-yard receiver (Mingo, 575 yards, No. 38 FBS), alongside Kent State, Liberty, Texas and Wisconsin.
The Ole Miss roster features 13 players who hail from Texas: CB Miles Battle (Houston), RB Ulysses Bentley IV (Houston), WR Lex Boucvalt (Austin), OL Mason Brooks (Cedar Park), OL Erick Cade (Denton), RB Zach Evans (Houston), TE Kyirin Heath (Mansfield), WR JJ Henry (McKinney), DT Isaiah Iton (Houston), WR Jalen Knox (Arlington), OL Cedric Melton (Houston), WR Jaylon Robinson (Fort Worth), and TE Landon Thomason (Austin).
AIRING IT OUT
The Ole Miss offense hasn’t just been getting it done on the ground, but have also been able to find some big plays through the air this season. The Rebels have had three passing plays of more than 60 yards this season, tied for the 10th most in program history. All three of those 60-yard passes came against Vanderbilt, marking the first time in available records (since 1933) that Ole Miss had three 60-yard passes in the same game.
Ole Miss ranks second in the SEC and No. 21 in the FBS with 2.9 sacks per game. DE Jared Ivey, LB Khari Coleman and DE Tavius Robinson all lead the team with 3.5 sacks each on the season. 10 different Rebels have at least one or more sacks for Ole Miss this year, the 14th-most amongst FBS schools. Ole Miss has recorded at least three sacks in six of the eight games played this season.
WR Jonathan Mingo has been particularly dangerous from far away, recording nine receptions of at least 25 yards, eight of at least 30, four of at least 40, three of at least 50 and two beyond 70 yards. He leads the SEC and ranks No. 4 in the FBS in yards per reception (22.2). Mingo has set his career-long reception three times this season, starting with a 51-yard strike against Central Arkansas and his two 70-yard touchdowns against Vanderbilt of 72 and 71 yards. In his career, Mingo owns 17 receptions of at least 30 yards, six of at least 40, four of at least 50 and two beyond 70 yards. From 30 yards or further in his career, Mingo has hauled in five total touchdowns.
AND MINGO WAS HIS NAME-O
Jonathan Mingo’s performance vs. Vanderbilt during Week 6 not only ranks tops in the Ole Miss record books, but also at the top of the FBS leaderboard heading into Week 9 action. Mingo’s 247-yard day topped the previous best of 246 set by Kent State’s Dante Cephas against Ohio on Oct. 1. Mingo’s game against the Commodores ranks 40 yards better than the next-best performance by an SEC receiver this season (Tennessee’s Jalin Hyatt, 207 yards, vs. Alabama) and 10 yards better than any receiver against a Power-5 defense (Nebraska’s Trey Palmer, 237 yards, vs. Purdue). Mingo is one of just 12 FBS receivers to cross the 200-yard plateau this season.
The Ole Miss offensive line unit has been named to the Joe Moore Award Midseason honor roll, acknowledging its efforts in protecting one of the best offenses in the NCAA. The Rebels have used three different starting lineups and six different starting linemen, but that hasn’t slowed down Ole Miss as it currently leads the FBS in rushing touchdowns (26) and ranks top-20 in: rushing offense (3rd, 252.1 ypg), seconds per play (3rd, 20.3), total yards (4th, 3,956), first downs (4th, 202), sacks allowed (8th, 0.75/game), yards per completion (8th, 14.6), third down percentage (10th, 52.3), total offense (490.5 ypg), total plays (12th, 587) and scoring offense (16th, 38.2 ppg). The Rebel starting offensive linemen of LT Jayden Williams, LG Nick Broeker, C Caleb Warren, RG/C Eli Acker, RG/C Jeremy James and RT Micah Pettus have only allowed six sacks all season long. Combined, those six hold 109 career starts and 138 games played. They have also helped Ole Miss make history along the way in 2022, pushing the Rebels to 448 rushing yards vs. Auburn on Oct. 15 — the most by a Rebel team since 1962 — and three 100-yard rushers for the first time since 1975.
FIRST HALF EFFICIENCY
Ole Miss is averaging 490.5 yards per game, but the Rebels are doing a majority of their work in the first half. Lane Kiffin and the Rebel offense averages 283.0 yards in the first half and have surpassed the 300-yard mark in the first half twice this season. The Rebels are outscoring their opponents 192-86 in the first half this season. Ole Miss has averaged 148.0 yards rushing through the first 30 minutes of their games this season.
COLEMAN GETTING IN THE BACKFIELD
Despite missing the two games due to injury this season, TCU transfer Khari Coleman has registered 7.5 tackles for loss this season. With his 5.0 TFL in the season opener vs. Troy, Coleman became just the third Rebel since 1999 to tally five or more tackles for loss in a single game. Mark Robinson registered 5.0 TFL last season and Kendrick Clancy had 6.0 in 1999. Coleman earned Freshman All-America accolades in 2020 after a stellar freshman campaign for the Horned Frogs. Coleman ranked second in the Big 12 and seventh nationally with 15.0 tackles for loss as a true freshman on his way to being named the Big 12 Co-Defensive Freshman of the Year. The 10.0 tackles for loss were the most by any SEC team in their season opener and are the most in an Ole Miss opening game since 2014.
KD HILL RECEIVES CHUCKY MULLINS COURAGE AWARD, WILL WEAR NO. 38
Ole Miss DT KD Hill was recently named the winner of the 2022 Chucky Mullins Courage Award. The award, sponsored by Phi Beta Sigma fraternity, honors the late Chucky Mullins, who had his Ole Miss career come to an end during the 1989 Homecoming game against Vanderbilt when he was paralyzed after making a tackle. After returning to his studies at Ole Miss, Mullins passed away May 6, 1991. A native of Eufaula, Alabama, Hill becomes the 32nd recipient in the 33-year history of the award. Hill will wear Mullins’ No. 38 number throughout the 2022 season.