Positive Reinforcement

Ole Miss head coach Houston Nutt met the media via teleconference Sunday, a day after his team's 55-38 win over Fresno State.

The third-year head coach was obviously in better spirits.

Ole Miss opened the year with a disappointing 1-2 record, including a conference-opening loss to Vanderbilt. But thanks to a virtually unstoppable rushing attack, the Rebels wore down Fresno State en route to their first home win of the season.

Nutt was quick to point to his new starting guards, Patrick Junen and Logan Clair, as a reason for Ole Miss' 425 yards rushing. Brandon Bolden accounted for 228 of those yards and two touchdowns, while Jeff Scott, who earned the start, had 74 yards and yet another score.

"This was our fourth different offensive line in four games, so we came out with fewer plays and just tried to execute better, which we did," he said. "Our blocking was better. Our backs ran hard and Jeremiah (Masoli) did an excellent job of reading the plays."

Brandon Bolden

Bolden's 228 yards rushing on 19 carries was the sixth-highest total in program history.

"He ran with his eyes, behind his pads with a lean," Nutt said of the junior running back. "He was being physical and breaking tackles. He hit the hole hard and he showed speed. That's the Brandon we have been counting on. He brings a lot to the table when he plays like that."

Nutt said Junen had a few mental breakdowns in the game, though he was pleased with the walk-on freshman's performance.

Junen has mostly worked at left tackle since his arrival in the summer, but was moved to left guard last week and inserted into the starting lineup as Nutt sought to jump-start an underwhelming offensive line.

"Patrick had a few mental busts, like on the draw play and power play - a couple of things, but overall he gave good effort and I was proud of him," Nutt said. "He had five knockdowns and 12 finishes. You love his effort, he's learning and he's getting much better."

Not all was perfect Saturday, as Ole Miss lost senior defensive end Kentrell Lockett for the year with an ACL injury.

Kentrell Lockett

Running back Enrique Davis was also banged up, but Nutt was still unsure of the severity when meeting with reporters.

Nutt said the absence of Lockett is a big blow for his young team. Lockett, who was named the Chucky Mullins Award recipient, is a team leader and captain.

"He's been our number one leader and an awesome presence," Nutt said. "We have to have Cameron Whigham, Jason Jones, Delvin Jones to step up. We are going to have to keep a real close eye on that end spot. Kentrell is definitely out."

Ole Miss surrendered 420 yards of total offense to Fresno State. Ryan Colburn, a fifth-year senior, completed 32 of his 42 passes for 390 yards and four touchdowns against an undermanned Rebel secondary missing starting cornerback Jeremy McGee.

Nutt is looking for better production from his defense, which held the Bulldogs to only 30 yards rushing on 33 carries.

"We have to keep getting better," he said. "We look good at times and sometimes we don't know where the ball is. We have to get some things corrected there. What I did like, though, was how hard we played. We really ran to the ball well. What's happening with our secondary is that we are having growing pains. If we'll just keep fighting and learning and getting better with our techniques, I think we can become a good defense.

"Lockett being hurt hurts us. Somebody will have to step up, probably a freshman, and it's a new world for them. It's hard to explain until they are out there playing and see how fast things are. They have to think, adjust and then play 100 miles an hour. It's not easy."

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