Ole Miss Football: Matt Luke and Rebels Now Focused On No.1 Alabama

OXFORD, MS - SEPTEMBER 8: Head Coach Matt Luke of the Mississippi Rebels on the sidelines during a game against the Southern Illinois Salukis at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium on September 8, 2018 in Oxford, Mississippi. The Rebels defeated the Salukis 76-41. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
OXFORD, MS - SEPTEMBER 8: Head Coach Matt Luke of the Mississippi Rebels on the sidelines during a game against the Southern Illinois Salukis at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium on September 8, 2018 in Oxford, Mississippi. The Rebels defeated the Salukis 76-41. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images) /

Ole Miss football coach Matt Luke kicked off the week with his regular Monday news conference where he discussed SIU and the upcoming game with Bama.

As the Rebels entered week-three of the 2018 Ole Miss football season the focus was turned towards the SEC opener against Alabama. After coming off a very puzzling first half defensive performance in the 76-41 blowout of Southern Illinois Rebels fans were happy to get to 2-0 and worried about week-three against the Tide. While Matt Luke could do little to calm most of our worries about this week he did address the SIU game and the upcoming matchup with Bama.

Coach Luke first began by acknowledging Saturdays win and said he was “happy to be 2-0”. Luke noted the play of QB Jordan Ta’amu and the WRs who made some huge plays in the passing game and was pleased with the offensive efficiency Saturday. The Ole Miss offense put up 76 points on 646 yards of total offense against SIU with 479 yards coming thru the air and 167 yards on the ground.

Obviously offense wasn’t the problem this past Saturday and Matt Luke addressed the defensive issues which plagued the Rebels in the first half against the Salukis. First Luke echoed his post-game comments by once again taking full blame for not having the Rebels ready to go for the SIU game from the very start of the game. While many Rebels imagine Luke and McGriff making half-time adjustments according to Luke the only thing the Rebels did differently in the second half was simply execute. According to OleMissSports,

"The same people that were running wide open in the first half were the same plays that we were intercepting in the second half. We just need to play faster with more of a sense of urgency. It wasn’t anything schematic, more just focus going out and playing the game that should be played. ~Coach Matt Luke"

Luke Discusses Injuries


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So far this season the Rebels have had a few injuries but with the exception of Jaylon Jones they have been fairly minor. Luke discussed the injury front and laid out the statuses of those players. As of now DaMarkus Lodge who was a no go Saturday is still in concussion protocol. Luke believes Lodge is coming thru the process well and is probable for Saturday. Luke also listed the status of Kevontae’ Ruggs for Saturday as probable.

Tariqious Tisdale went down with a concussion in the game against SIU. Luke noted Tisdale was still in concussion protocol and with it being day-to-day he hoped to know more about Tisdale’s status this Wednesday. Luke also mentioned both Detric Bing- Dukes and Jacquez Jones being ‘banged up’ this past Saturday. When it comes to their availability for the Bama game Luke stated, “I think they’ll play.”

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NWO Depth

We’ve known the NWO is very good but Saturday against the Salukis we were able to see just how deep they are. While the NWO has been thought of as a steady of three wide receivers it is more than just AJ Brown, DK Metcalf and DaMarkus Lodge. Saturday we watched an outstanding game by Braylon Sanders who is now No.3 in the SEC in receiving yards. Of course, Sanders was playing for the injured Lodge but was coming off an impressive first game. Coach Luke spoke about Sanders,

"“The fun part is to see the work ethic really paying off and see Braylon take advantage of opportunities, not only in the last game but the first game he started to be consistent and show up making the tough catches.” ~Coach Matt Luke"

Rebels fans were also able to see some other members of the NWO in action this past Saturday with freshman Elijah Moore picking up his first TD and NWO belt as a Rebels receiver. Senior Alex Weber made an outstanding catch in the game which drew a lot of attention. Both NWO members were noted by Luke.

"It was fun to see Elijah Moore get his first touchdown, and a guy like Alex Weber who has worked hard and been here a long time being the number one play on SportsCenter on his first ever catch. ~Coach Matt Luke"

Luke On Younger Players

So far Rebels fans have seen quite a few new faces on the field this season and they have been good. It’s fair to say most Rebels fans have been pleased with the performances of the number of freshmen who have been playing. Kavontae’Ruggs, Jacquez Jones and Keidron Smith have all looked good in the short time we’ve seen them. Saturday Keidron Smith got his first INT as a Rebels DB. Luke noted his play Saturday,

"“Certainly, as you get deeper into the season, your depth becomes more important as guys start to get banged up. Keidron Smith, he had a really good fall camp and you saw him come along, so it was good for him to go make a play.” ~Coach Matt Luke"

Luke On Alabama

There is no doubt in any Ole Miss football fans mind that Bama is indeed a good game. Over the years we have seen Bama lose multitudes of great players each season and the next season they are as good or better. Of course, Matt Luke knows what he is dealing with when it comes to the Alabama football program and explained what impresses him the most about the Bama program.

"“Their ability to put good player after good player out there consistently. It’s impressive. They have good players, and they’re well-coached. Impressive on both sides of the ball. Offense, defensive lines are always really good. Really good skill players. It’s just impressive the consistency they show year after year.” ~Coach Matt Luke"

There has been somewhat of a QB battle in Tuscaloosa which is rarely seen under Saban. Of course, Rebels fans are familiar with Jalen Hurts who we’ve seen play very good for Alabama. Now there is Tua Tagovailoa who is also very good. Luke spoke about Tua and what he brings to the table for Bama.

"“The ability for a young quarterback and the decision making, they ask him to do some RPO stuff where he has to make some decisions. He’s got a really quick release. He has very good receivers to throw it to. His ability to extend plays, and obviously his decision making, has been good.” ~Coach Matt Luke"

Luke On Player Focus

This past Saturday we saw a prime example of players not being focused on the game at hand and it cost the Rebels in the first half. It isn’t unusual for players to look ahead to a big game like Bama and not be totally prepared. Now, the Rebels can clearly focus on the Alabama game without having anything to impede their focus. Luke spoke about having the players mentally prepared for the game this Saturday.

"“You work all year for 12 opportunities. They’re all precious, and you have to treat them all the same, so often it’s very hard to just get them to focus and be in the now. That’s my job as head coach is to have them ready to go and take advantage of each opportunity.” ~Coach Matt Luke"

Luke continued explaining what the difficulties are about maintaining focus and his approach to making sure the Rebels are clearly focused on the task at hand.

"“Just preparation and the way you approach your work week and approach your business and just keeping your focus throughout that. That’s up to me to set that and to go on the practice field on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and go out there and make it happen. And just to see the big picture. Sometimes you can look past, but you have to be focused on the here and now and the task at hand.” ~Coach Matt Luke"

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Bama This Saturday!

With Alabama just days away OHT will be covering a lot of angles on Saturdays game and will be passing along updates from Oxford as we receive them. Please be sure to visit the site here and visit and like our Facebook page and follow us on Twitter for the latest news and updates on everything Ole Miss. The Rebels will be hosting the Tide this Saturday with kickoff from the Vaught set for 6pm CT. The game will be televised via ESPN. Good luck to coach Matt Luke and the Rebels. BEAT BAMA! Hotty Toddy!