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OPINION: Oxford needs to use JJ Pegues more in big games

I stood on the sideline of Bobby Holcomb Field for the Oxford intrasquad scrimmage game when JJ Pegues literally ran through one defender, before stiff arming another to jump-start an Oxford offense that started relatively stagnant.

It’s that kind of game-changing, physical mindset setting play Pegues brings. And it’s something the Chargers didn’t use nearly enough last week against Starkville. At halftime against the Yellowjackets, Pegues had not even touched the football.

Now, Starkville is hands down the toughest game on the Charger regular season schedule. Oxford won’t play anyone at that caliber again in division play, and the toughest game remaining will be the Cross-Town Classic against Lafayette. Oxford can win the easier games without a big impact from their best offensive weapon. But to win the big ones, Pegues needs to be more involved.

Oxford got to use Pegues eventually against Starkville, but it was too little too late. He finished the game with six touches for 68 yards, scoring on a wildcat run on the goal line. But Oxford was trailing by 24 before coach Chris Cutcliffe went to his best offensive weapon.

In fairness, the Chargers are trying to use JJ Pegues more as his traditional position this season. He’s being recruited as an athlete, but most teams want him as a tight end at the college level, where Oxford is primarily playing him this season. As a pass catcher at that tight end position, he’s been really impressive, averaging 17.6 yards a reception this season.

And that’s all well and good, but when Oxford gets to playing the best teams remaining on their schedule, they need to do everything in their power to get him the ball in any way possible, be it pass catching or handoffs. The thing with Pegues isn’t just that he needs touches – he does. He can be used as a decoy, something the team really didn’t do as well against Starkville. Use him in a play action sweep or other ways to convince defenders Oxford is getting their best player the ball.

One thing’s for sure: Oxford can’t continue to go a full half without Pegues touching the football, especially against good football teams.