Ole Miss football head coach Matt Luke kicked off the Rebels second week of football season with his weekly presser as the Rebels get ready for SIU.
The Rebels put week-one of the 2018 Ole Miss football season in the books with a big season opening win over Texas Tech. Monday coach Matt Luke had his weekly press conference and discussed Saturdays win over the Red Raiders before moving his discussion to the upcoming game against Southern Illinois. Overall Luke was very pleased with what he saw from the Tech win and addressed a few things which the Rebels need to improve upon.
In his opening statement Luke acknowledged JUCO transfer Scottie Phillips for his huge game against the Red Raiders. “I’m happy to see him get off to that start. I’m excited with what I’ve seen from him through spring and fall camp, but happy to see him have that type of start,” stated Luke. Of course, Phillips had 204 yards rushing on 16 carries and 2 TDs in Saturdays game. Luke also commented on the solid play of Jordan Ta’amu saying, “Jordan looked very comfortable spreading the ball out to all the receivers so that was positive.”
Coach Luke went on to mention how well the offensive line played against a solid Tech defensive front. “I thought the O-line protected and played really well. Had a couple of breakdowns, but for the most part they played pretty good,” stated coach Luke. When asked about the solid game by red-shirt freshman Ben Brown Luke responded, “There were some freshman mistakes. He was very excited early on. But overall, for the first game, he played really well. Especially being in a big environment, away from home, I thought he did well.”
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Naturally we expected to hear Luke address the defense and in his opening statement he did. “Defensively, I thought our communication was better. I saw a lot of communication coming from the senior safeties to our linebackers. I thought that was better watching the tape, the confidence and the retention was good,” stated Luke.
Luke commented on the special teams and the success which sophomore kicker Luke Logan had going 4 for 4 in the Tech game. “From the kicking game, I am really pleased with Luke Logan in his first time starting in a big environment. He did really, really well,” said Luke.
Areas Of Improvement
Coach Matt Luke noted a number of aspects of the Rebels win Saturday where the Rebel would be making improvements over this week leading up to SIU. Luke noted the need to score in the red zone when the Rebels have the ball and said they would be working on that aspect of the offense in coming days. Defensively Luke noted the importance of getting off the field on 3rd down and also noted needed improvement in the red-zone run defense. Coach Luke also noted the need to work on kickoff coverage for special teams.
Coach Matt Luke discussed the injury situation which Ole Miss is facing after the season opener. What was a suspected torn ACL for junior DB Jaylon Jones was confirmed by MRI. Jones who will miss the remainder of the season will undergo surgery Friday.
Senior WR DaMarkus Lodge and freshman LB Kevontae’ Ruggs are both in concussion protocol and status is still day by day for both. Senior center Sean Rawlings who had both a sore knee and sore shoulder is probable for Saturday however he will be limited in practice this week.
Luke On Rotation
With the injury update we were left to wonder who would replace Jaylon Jones. Luke discussed the issue of secondary depth and the rotation saying he felt comfortable with the defensive backs who had emerged from fall camp. Luke specifically noted freshman Keidron Smith‘s opportunity to find a role in the secondary. Coach Luke also mentioned his comfort level with the more experienced players like senior Javien Hamilton and junior Myles Hartsfield and noted the return this week of senior Ken Webster.
Luke also discussed the probable linebacker rotation this Saturday should Kevontae’ Ruggs not be able to go. Luke said it would be by committee and rotate four players. Sophomore Mohamed Sanogo,senior Detric Bing-Dukes,junior Willie Hibbler and freshman Jacquez Jones. From what Luke says we can expect to see all four a lot this Saturday. Hopefully, Ruggs may be available as well.
Luke On SIU
Luke spoke briefly about the Rebels turning their attention to this weeks home opener against the Southern Illinois Salukis. Luke mentioned the fact they are coming off an impressive season opening 49-0 win over Murray State and noted the Salukis created 6 turnovers of which 3 went for scores.
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