Bolden’s 228 yards in victory give Rebels hope
Brandon Bolden’s philosophy on running the football is simple:
Focus on getting four to six yards first, but don’t lose sight of
the end zone.
”That big one’s always there, but you’ve just got to get in
that rhythm,” Bolden said. ”Once you get into that rhythm the
possibilities are endless.”
Whether it was rhythm or simply the gigantic holes in Fresno
State’s defensive line, Bolden certainly had plenty of success
during Saturday’s 55-38 victory, rushing for a career-high 228
yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries. It was the sixth-most
rushing yards in a single game in school history.
Bolden, a 5-foot-11, 215-pound junior, has been a dependable
back during his career, even if Saturday’s numbers caught just
about everyone by surprise. Coming into the season, he had rushed
for 1,156 yards and notched two 100-yard rushing games – including
one in the Rebels’ Cotton Bowl victory over Texas Tech in 2009.
Now the challenge is keeping up the production against a
Southeastern Conference opponent. Ole Miss (2-2, 0-1 SEC) hosts
Kentucky (3-1, 0-1) on Saturday at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.
Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt said Bolden’s success had much to do
with an improved offensive line. The Rebels juggled the starters
against Fresno State, using true freshman Patrick Junen and junior
Logan Clair for the first time.
The results were encouraging.
”There were some holes there for the first time,” Nutt said.
”There were true running lanes.”
But now that the Rebels are going back to the brutal,
hard-hitting world of the SEC, Nutt doesn’t expect Bolden to have
nearly as much room to run against Kentucky’s defense. Bolden has
never rushed for 100 yards in an SEC game, and last season averaged
7.2 yards per carry against non-conference opponents while only 3.5
against SEC foes.
”You don’t always get (big holes), so you have to get the tough
yardage … the yards after contact,” Nutt said. ”We just want
him to keep playing. He played very, very hard, and I think he’ll
step it up.”
Kentucky coach Joker Phillips said both Bolden and quarterback
Jeremiah Masoli concern him because of their quickness in the
running game. The Wildcats were torched by Florida 48-14 on
Saturday, with the defense having a tough time catching up to the
Gators’ athletic playmakers.
”We’ve got to be able to go through our reads and also get
people on the ground,” Phillips said.
During the first four games, Nutt has spread the carries among
four running backs – Bolden, Enrique Davis, Jeff Scott and Rodney
But Davis suffered a knee injury against Fresno State and his
availability for Saturday is in question. Jeff Scott, a true
freshman, rushed for 74 yards against Fresno State, including a
55-yard touchdown that showcased the 5-foot-8, 170-pounder’s quick
”He has great speed,” Nutt said. ”You don’t have to hold a
block quite as long with him. The secondary has to take good
angles, because he can fly. What he brings to the table is a
different type of back. He has a quick step and we are really
excited about using him in different ways.
Last season, when Ole Miss was at its best, the Rebels mixed the
quickness of now-departed Dexter McCluster with Bolden’s power
running to form an effective rotation that kept defenses
Matching McCluster might be a tough task, considering he was the
first player in SEC history to gain 1,000 yards rushing and 500
yards receiving in a single season. But there’s optimism that a
Bolden-Scott duo could be effective as Ole Miss tries to rebound
from a tough start that’s included surprising losses to
Jacksonville State and Vanderbilt..
Nutt said Scott must work on protecting the football. Fumbles
were a problem during preseason camp, as was a foot injury that
sidelined him for a few weeks.
”He’s exciting,” Nutt said. ”Hopefully we can keep him on the