Finding the Formula

Head coach Houston Nutt, Ole Miss now 1-1 on the 2010 season, assessed where his team stood Monday heading into its conference opener against Vanderbilt this weekend.

He had his criticisms, pointing to the inconsistencies of his productive, if not flawed, running game. He wants to see improvement. An inexperienced offensive line has had its ups and downs, limiting the big plays of his stable of backs.

"They've run hard, but we expect more," he said. "There will be a learning curve on the offensive line when you break in some new players."

Junior running back Brandon Bolden, after leading the team in rushing against Jacksonville State, finished with 30 yards on seven carries in a 27-13 win over Tulane. The majority of those yards, however, came on a 16-yard touchdown scamper in the first half.

"(The running game) is a lot better than I would have expected," he said. "I knew with a young offensive line they would mess up every now and then, but they're surprising me."

RB Brandon Bolden

But how much better?

Bolden was far less effective after halftime, actually giving way to fellow veteran Enrique Davis, who led the team in rushing with 14 carries and 40 yards.

Actually, Saturday retold the same story from a week prior; the story of a Jekyll and Hyde offense defined by its sporadic running game.

"As of right now, I think it's better than people expected," Bolden said. "With our offensive line with such a young group of guys, a lot people probably thought we weren't going to have such an early, good running game.

"We've just got to continue to do it."

Sawyer sees progress in week two:

Charles Sawyer got his first taste of the college level in Ole Miss' season opener against Jacksonville State. And as he will admit, it wasn't the happiest of debuts, considering the team fell in epic fashion.

Saturday, however, the butterflies were gone and the outcome was a win. He was calmer and far more collected. There were fewer surprises. He had been here before. He needed only to focus on his approach, and afterwards, to the remaining schedule ahead.

"From week one to week two, I calmed down a lot," he said. "I'm just thinking to myself, as the season goes on, I'm just going to get better and better."

Sawyer finished second in tackles at Tulane. He managed 10 total, including seven solo stops.

"We were way focused," Sawyer said. "It was disappointing against Jacksonville State, because we know we're way better than that. We went into Tulane with a chip on our shoulder and that's how it has to be week in and week out."

Dismissing the ramifications of Saturday's meeting with Vanderbilt from a team perspective, if just for a moment, the third game of the 2010 season carries significant weight for Sawyer.

CB Charles Sawyer

He wants to know where he stands, how he'll react when challenged by comparable athletes.

"We're starting off with Vanderbilt. It's just going to tell where I'm at in the SEC," he said. "I watched some film today. Everybody in the SEC is good. You can't underestimate anybody. We've just got to play our game and finish."

He'll surely be tested. Vanderbilt quarterback Larry Smith is the very definition of a dual-threat quarterback, possessing an ability to improvise as well as effectively find his receivers downfield.

"Their quarterback is a runner and he can pass the ball," Sawyer said. "He's a dual-threat. We just have to stay on our receivers and I know we're going to get pressure from the defensive line, so it's just going to click together.

"It's in the back of your head as you guard a receiver. When he's not throwing the receiver the ball and his guy's running, it's in the back of your head. But you can't think about it too much."

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