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Rebels look to replace injured Temple and Dorsey on defense

Alex Edwards/The Daily Mississippian


A very subpar 2011 season has continued to get worse for Ole Miss, as the Rebels defense lost two of its senior defensive leaders for the season in defensive end Wayne Dorsey and defensive back Marcus Temple. 

Both were injured during Saturday’s 52-7 blowout loss to Alabama. Temple suffered a broken right ankle in the first quarter, and Dorsey broke his right arm in the fourth quarter.

“Wayne Dorsey had surgery yesterday, along with Marcus Temple,” Ole Miss head coach Houston Nutt said at Monday’s press conference. “Those guys will not be able to play the rest of the year. That really hurts. They were outstanding captains for us, real leaders. Wayne Dorsey was playing his best football. Marcus Temple was playing his best football, playing the ball better in the secondary than he has his whole career.”

Dorsey currently leads Ole Miss with three sacks this season, and was playing very well in his second year in the Ole Miss program, while Temple has recorded two interceptions and has been the Rebels’ most consistent cornerback so far in 2011.

The loss of the two team captains means that the Rebels will have to call on their younger players to try and fill the shoes of Dorsey and Temple on defense, especially in the secondary.

“We’re trying to get the best fit right there,” Nutt said. “Wesley Pendelton, Charles Sawyer, Damien Jackson, Frank Crawford and Senquez Golson have to step up and go to work for us.”

Among the names mentioned as players who could see increased roles at defensive end include senior Kentrell Lockett, junior Gerald Rivers, junior Jason Jones, sophomore Cameron Whigham, junior Uriah Grant, who moved to the position against Alabama, and freshman C.J. Johnson, who has also played linebacker this season.

One of the options Ole Miss has at corner is to move current safety sophomore Charles Sawyer back to cornerback, where he played this past season. While that move is under consideration, Nutt wasn’t sure if that’s the right move for the defense.

“Still right there discussing that, talking about it,” he said. “Boy, you know (Sawyer’s) got four interceptions from that spot back there (at safety), that’s what you hate. He’s really comfortable right there.”

When asked about moving back over to corner, Sawyer said he would be fine with the move.

“I just talked to coach Burns and coach Nix, and they are thinking about moving me back to corner,” he said. “I’ve played it, I’m comfortable with it, so whatever is best for the team is what I’m going to do.“

a“Dedicate the rest of the season to him,” Sawyer said. “I know that’s what he’d do if one us went down. Just keep playing hard; play for him.”

As Ole Miss heads into Saturday’s game with No. 10 Arkansas, who ranks 17th nationally in points scored per game (39.2 ppg), the Rebels have to scramble to find players to fill both spots on the field and the leadership roles on the defense.