By Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – Plans are being made to replace senior defensive starters Marcus Temple and Wayne Dorsey, Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt, but those plans are not complete right now.
Both sustained career-ending injuries in Saturday’s 52-7 loss to No. 2 Alabama, Temple with a broken ankle, Dorsey with a broken arm.
There are several experienced options to work in Dorsey’s place at end, though Dorsey had been one of the team’s top defensive players this season. Senior Kentrell Lockett and juniors Gerald Rivers and Jason Jones were the first players Nutt named.
Cornerback is a little different.
Freshmen Nick Brassell and Senquez Golson are much less experienced than Temple. Brassell has been effective as a two-way player, and Nutt wants to consider things carefully before disrupting Brassell. There has also been talk of moving safety Charles Sawyer back to corner, but Sawyer has taken quickly to his new position. He’s third on the team in tackles and leads with four interceptions.
Sawyer says he’s open to the switch.
“I’ve talked to coach (Keith) Burns and coach (Tyrone) Nix. They think I’m moving back to corner,” Sawyer said. “I’ve played it, and I’m comfortable with it. Whatever’s best for the team.”
Golson – who earlier this season turned down more than $1 million from the Boston Red Sox to pursue college football — got his most extensive playing time after Temple went out in the first quarter. He was not pleased with his performance, saying he needs to be more physical.
“I was out there for a couple of quarters. I got a little experience, and hopefully I can turn it around against Arkansas,” he said. “I didn’t think I did good at all, but you live and you learn. I don’t have my head down about anything. I’ll come out and compete again.”
SEC losing streak
The current nine-game SEC losing streak ties for the longest in Ole Miss history. The SEC began play in 1933.
Nutt has had a hand in both streaks, though the overwhelming amount of credit for the first one goes to former coach Ed Orgeron.
The Rebels were 0-8 in SEC games under Orgeron in 2007, following a 20-17 win over Mississippi State to close the 2006 season.
Nutt replaced Orgeron for the 2008 season and lost the SEC opener at home to Vanderbilt before winning 31-30 at then-No. 4 Florida the following week.
Nutt said there is reason to have a sense of hope that the streak will end soon.
“Just the way we played in the first half against Alabama. There have been a few bright spots. When we execute and play hard on offense, defense and special teams we look like a football team. We’re playing a lot of young people, and they’re making a lot of plays for us,” Nutt said. “You always have that next opportunity.”
Sophomore defensive end Carlos Thompson arrived on campus as an accomplished high school pass rusher, but he’s been slow to get on a game-day field at Ole Miss.
For his work at Hollandale Simmons, Thompson was ranked the No. 9 defensive end, the No. 175 prospect in the nation by Rivals.com.
He reported at a lanky 6-4 as a freshman last year. Thompson has increased his weight to 250, but strength and getting off blocks have been his biggest drawbacks. He’s another player expected to get a strong look in the absence of Dorsey, who leads the team in tackles for loss with four.
“When you’re trying to get strong, and you’re already in the SEC trenches of the defensive line, that’s a major task,” Nutt said. “One of the best things he does is rush the passer, but a game like last Saturday would not have been a good game for him right now. He’s coming along, and in the future he’s going to be a very good football player for us. This could be the week we use him more.”