Ole Miss Football: Matt Luke Talks Execution, Bama And Injuries

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 spoke with the media in his weekly Monday news conference and had much to discuss after the loss to Alabama.

Ole Miss football fans were anxious to hear what Matt Luke would have to say Monday when he took the podium for his weekly press conference. This past Saturday the Rebels hosted the No.1 Alabama Crimson Tide and fell in a disappointing 62-7 blowout. The Tide was heavily favored in the matchup and lived up to the Bama hype as Ole Miss struggled on both sides of the ball.

Like most Ole Miss fans coach Matt Luke had watched the replay of Saturday nights game and felt the same way most of us felt. Matt Luke opened his Monday press conference by expressing his disappointment with what he saw. It was obvious he was very let down by the outcome and stated he believed they were ready to be back in the big game.

Luke On Execution

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For Luke and the press conference the focus was on one thing, execution. Luke acknowledged there was poor execution against the No.1 Tide. Luke explained how the little things like execution errors are magnified against a team like Bama.

Of course Luke took the blame stating, “That starts with me. It’s my job to put a team on the field that executes. There are no shortcuts, the only thing you do is get off the mat and go back to work to fix the problems, and that’s what we plan on doing.”

Luke spoke further about execution and players going out with confidence to execute on a consistent basis and then a little extra. Luke explained, “The magic is in effort and the execution of it, and a lot of that is coaching and getting guys to react and see things and play the game. Once again Matt Luke shouldered the blame for the embarrassing loss.

"“But again, ultimately that’s the coach’s job to get those guys to go out there and execute, and that’s what we have to do better.” ~Coach Matt Luke"

Luke On Defensive Execution

Thru three games the defense has been bad plain and simple. So far this season the Rebels defense has given up 130 points and 1,631 yards allowing 1,016 yards thru the air and 615 yards on the ground. The defense is allowing 43.33 points per game which is really bad considering the Rebels offense is also scoring 43.33 points per game. Saturday night we witnessed poor execution on defense and Matt Luke addressed the issue. According to OleMissSports,

"“You have to be able to communicate and do your job. That’s a big part of it. It all falls back to coaches. When you go on the field, you have to be able to execute it. That’s our job. That’s my job as a head coach to make sure that happens. If you have to simplify, then you have to simplify, but when they walk out there, they have to know what’s going on.” ~Coach Matt Luke"

While we saw a few big plays there was a clear lack of focus from the Rebels on defense. There were countless plays where there defense was not in position when the ball was snapped. To be a productive defense they have to make big plays and get stops which were hard to come by against the Tide. Coach Luke talked more about correcting the defensive issues and more about execution from the defense.

"I think just energy and focus and confidence and making a play. There was a play in the second half where Benito Jones made a play, and it changed the sideline. That’s infectious. And so are the big plays. We have to find a way to capture that, bottle that and make that who we are. Make that our calling card. ~Coach Matt Luke"

Coach Luke went on to add the defense was striving to be that can make the big plays and keep the momentum and excitement ramped up on the Ole Miss sidelines.

"“That’s what we’ll be striving to get, more of those plays that erupt the sideline with the energy, the emotion and the passion that you have to have to play winning football in this league.” ~Coach Matt Luke"

Luke On Bama Defense

Of course, coach Matt Luke addressed the offensive issues and especially the Rebels passing game. Luke noted the amount of pressure the Tide was able to put on Jordan Ta’amu and the success the Bama secondary had against the NWO.

"The biggest thing I saw was they were able to get pressure on the quarterback. That was the difference. The batted balls, the pressure on the quarterbacks. We had several plays where we had guys open, and their corners made some good plays. ~Coach Matt Luke"

Luke credited Bama for getting pressure on the quarterback and playing good football. Luke once again mentioned the little things showing up against Bama that weren’t concerning in the Texas Tech and Southern Illinois. The Tide had 4 sacks on QB Jordan Ta’amu in the game which raised questions about the offensive line play against the Tide. Luke once again spoke about Bama.

"“Credit Alabama a lot because they forced some of those things with how they’re playing. To me, it goes back to execution. It’s little things—your hand placement, your hat placement, your sets. Everything needs to be on point and really good when you’re playing against a good team.” ~Coach Matt Luke"

Injuries And Depth

Thru three games the injury bug has begun to hit the Rebels and especially the secondary. After losing starting corner-back and return-man Jaylon Jones in week-one the Rebels lost another starting defensive back against the Tide. Junior STAR Montrell Custis suffered a torn ACL and will be out for the season. Add to that starting senior corner Ken Webster being out with a nagging hamstring issue. One bit of good news is junior running-back Eric Swinney being expected back this Saturday.

While there were no other injuries which Luke mentioned he did address the depth of the Rebels secondary. With the loss of three key DBs it certainly leaves Rebels fans worried about what lies ahead with a thin secondary. Of course, Luke was confident in the Rebels depth at the group and addressed the corner-back positions first.

"“Right now, Jalen Julius and Javion Hamilton will start, but Keidron is playing really well. Myles is having to do so many different things that he’s in there giving guys reps, being at corner and coming in some at star so it’s good to have a guy like that as he can back up a bunch of different positions.” ~Coach Matt Luke"

With the season-ending injury to Montrell Custis. who has been the starting STAR, there are has been a lot of curiosity as to how it would affect the rotation. Luke addressed this subject as well Monday. He explained there were both JUCO transfer Vernon Dasher and senior Cam Ordway. Luke said Myles Hartsfield could go at STAR but with the absence of Jones and Webster he would be seeing more corner work.

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Luke On Team Attitude

As expected coming off a really bad loss to open the SEC schedule has to be tough on both the players and coaches. However, Luke believes the Rebels are ok. Luke, his staff and the players all watched the replay and have moved past the Bama game. Will this bode well for the Rebels this weekend against Kent State and into the season? We hope they can put it behind them but also use it to make them much better. We will find out what the Rebels attitude really is when they host the Kent State Golden Flashes. Hotty Toddy!