There were several things Ole Miss needed to show improvement on defense this season, most notably better play in the secondary.
The Rebels have had that, but they've also gotten a fast start from senior defensive end Wayne Dorsey.
A lot was expected of Dorsey last year as a highly regarded junior college transfer, but he lost his starting job before the mid-way point of the season.
So far, Dorsey has put up big numbers.
“I’ve seen outstanding effort and a lot of maturity in him, just like now he is still out here working and trying to get better,” said defense coordinator Tyrone Nix at the conclusion of Wednesday's practice. “Wayne made a commitment in the offseason. Everyone was disappointed in his performance, including himself, a year ago and he took it as a personal challenge. A lot of these young men have, and he has upped his game. I’ve seen tremendous effort and work ethic. I see a leader in our defense.”
Said Dorsey: “I'm just preparing myself to go out and play as hard as I can every snap and show exactly who I am. I put the work in in the off-season, and I believe my hard work is paying off a little bit.”
Dorsey can't put a finger on exactly what's different from last year.
Through three games, he leads the team in tackles for loss with three and in sacks with two. He's broken up two passes, and he narrowly missed scoring with an interception against Southern Illinois when he was caught at the 4-yard line.
“I can just say I'm playing good I guess, playing better than last year. Nothing more than that. Really the biggest different is I'm just playing better.”
Does that mean he's quicker and not getting blocked as much, or is he more physical and not staying blocked?
“It’s just a combination of both. You know you see that commitment he made in the offseason paying off for him. I see him just making more plays on Saturdays."