Looking for Answers

Brandon Bolden wasn't 100 percent against Vanderbilt. Even still, he played. He had to. Ole Miss has struggled to score points through three games this season. He is one of the team's few playmakers.

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But a hobbled Bolden wasn't nearly enough to get the Rebels off the offensive snide. No, the Rebels struggled anyway, managing just 234 yards of total offense. Bolden had 59 all-purpose yards, including 39 rushing yards on eight carries.

Ole Miss lost the game 30-7.

"A loss is a loss, but to lose by that much, that's very disappointing. Nobody, you can't prepare mentally for that at all," he said. "That was about the worst part of it. Every time I looked at the scoreboard, it was just not happening. But it was also times looking at the scoreboard like, hey, a play here and a play there, we could get back in it as quick as we got out."

Ole Miss is 1-2 overall and 0-1 in Southeastern Conference games. Next up is Georgia Saturday at 11:21 a.m. Georgia has an equal 1-2, 0-1 record, though the Bulldogs have had little trouble racking up yards or points offensively.

The Rebels, meanwhile, are looking for answers. Their offense ranks among the worst in the country by statistical standards, and their defense is overworked. Further muddling things, head coach Houston Nutt has had to answer questions concerning his job security all week.

"Nobody hasn't said anything to me about it. I really got nothing to say about it," Bolden said of Nutt and the uncertainty surrounding his future. "From a player's standpoint, we're just playing football. That's the gist of it. That would really suck if he would lose his job because of us not winning. That's bad. I wouldn't put it on him. I don't put it on us. It's just a matter of which way the ball goes.

"I've seen the passion there, ‘cause everybody talks about how they don't want last season to come back again. It's just a matter of us getting out there and trying to take that passion and make it correlate on the field. Everybody wants the same thing. We just got to make sure everybody's on the same page."

Brandon Bolden
Chuck Rounsaville

Some have pinned Saturday's game, which will be broadcast by the SEC Network, as the "Hot Seat Bowl."

Like Nutt, Mark Richt is another much-debated name in coaching rumors early in the 2011 season, his team having lost to Boise State and South Carolina. Georgia's lone win came against Coastal Carolina last weekend.

For Bolden and his teammates, however, Saturday is about little else than winning. Ole Miss has lost nine of its last 10 conference games. And with the schedule only set to get tougher from here, the Rebels are desperate for a win.

"If there isn't a lot of confidence, it's our job to get it back up there then," Bolden said. "We got to get all that confidence back up. I would say (confidence is) pretty high. Everybody felt they knew what they had to do going into (Vanderbilt). I'd say everybody's confidence level game plan-wise was very high. Once the game started, it still looked all the same to me; just stuff wasn't going our way."

Bolden is feeling better. He suffered a slight fracture in his foot/ankle in the Rebels' season-opening loss to BYU. But he isn't himself. Not yet, at least, and the Ole Miss rushing attack is suffering because of it.

Current NCAA statistics rank Ole Miss the No. 98 rushing offense in the nation. Sophomore Jeff Scott leads the team in rushing with 59.33 yards per game. Much of the team-wide struggles, at least on paper, can be attributed to an underperforming offensive line. However, Bolden said the running backs have to be better, as well.

"The linemen are out there, they're trying to break that next opening hole for us," Bolden said. "It's our job as backs to get back there and hit ‘em. (The holes) have been there. We just got to hit them. We got to hit them as soon as they're open. You can't dance around the hole or anything like that; we just got to hit them.

"I'm not going to say it's anybody's fault, it's just a matter of timing. They're doing what they're supposed to do. They're opening the holes. It's our job to make sure we get the ball, make sure we have the ball and get through the hole in a timely manner. It's all about timing."

Dorsey performing, but winning all that matters:

Senior defensive end Wayne Dorsey has been a pleasant surprise in 2011.

In his second year, Dorsey, a junior college transfer, is ninth on the team in tackles with nine. He also has two sacks, three tackles for loss and an interception. Dorsey had just 12 total tackles and four tackles for loss in 12 games last season.

But Dorsey isn't satisfied with his performance, because Ole Miss isn't winning games.

Wayne Dorsey
Chuck Rounsaville

"Haven't done enough. We aren't winning. Doesn't really matter how I play. I only care about winning. It's the only thing I care about," he said.

Nutt was quick to praise Dorsey Monday. He said the 6-foot-6, 262-pound team captain had his best game as an Ole Miss Rebel against Vanderbilt, even if the performance was overshadowed by the blowout loss in Nashville.

Dorsey's final line against Vanderbilt consisted of five tackles, one sack, one tackle for loss and one forced fumble.

"Wayne Dorsey had his best game as an Ole Miss Rebel, and that's sad because the game was so bad, you don't focus on that. He played his best game to date," Nutt said.

"Man, the perfect word is shocking," Dorsey said of the loss to Vanderbilt. "We prepared hard, we practiced hard with our best week of preparation. But we really didn't put it together on Saturday. It's shocking, really. We would have thought it would have been the other way around, the way our week went as a group and as a unit. That's how things happen sometimes. But the good thing is another opportunity in Georgia's coming in here. Ready to play them."

This has been a trying week for Ole Miss football. Dorsey said he has heard the negativity surrounding the program. The negativity, he said, has been unavoidable.

"I have complete confidence in Coach Nutt and Coach (Tyrone) Nix and our whole staff. I believe that outside of here, everybody's hitting the panic button. I think that we can get things going and still have a great season," he said.

"It's hard to ignore it, really. I've heard the negative. People saying this and saying that, but at the end of the day, I still believe we can have a great team. I'm not so quick to hit the panic button. No matter what, I gotta go out and work every day in practice. I got to go watch film. I got to go prepare myself, prepare the people behind me to go out and play. And I still think that we're a great group defensively and offensively. We can do whatever we want."

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