Reason No. 23: The Run Game | Ole Miss Sports

This is a random order. Here’s reason No. 23 that Ole Miss will be improved in 2011.

When Houston Nutt was hired and inherited a pocket passer at quarterback there was some concern that he would force things with the run game.

Nutt had adapted previously in his career and did again with Jevan Snead, but coaches have personalities and preferences and Nutt’s is a strong running game.

He has recruited for and built one at Ole Miss, and this isn’t new. In Nutt’s three seasons at Ole Miss, the Rebels have finished in the top three in the SEC in rushing offense twice – second in 2008 and third last year.

In 2009 Dexter McCluster posted the second-best single-season total in school history with 1,169 yards, but that season was more about McCluster’s athleticism than a well-balanced rushing attack.

Brandon Bolden narrowly missed 1,000 yards last year – It’s happened only six times at Ole Miss – behind an offensive line that really didn’t heal and begin playing together until the latter part of the season.

Offensive coordinator David Lee has stated clearly that he wants to run first, pass second. Lee and Nutt aren’t hiding their intentions. It’s about running the football, and it’s what the Rebels will have to do at a high level to be successful on offense. It’s the way they’re geared.

This is a team with quality and depth in the backfield with Enrique Davis, a powerful runner like Bolden, and speedy sophomore Jeff Scott behind the starter.

Bolden and Scott have been rested a good bit during camp, and that’s given another quality back – junior Devin Thomas – the chance to get some reps. Thomas has looked good in two scrimmages running outside and between the tackles. He had 54 yards on eight attempts and a touchdown last Saturday.

It’s unlikely Thomas will get meaningful snaps unless there’s injury, but if there is, he won’t be just a stiff thrown to the wolves.

The wide receivers will factor into the run game too.