Football Media Day Press Conference
Aug. 2, 2017

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As Ole Miss players reported to campus, the Rebels held their annual media day at the Manning Center, Wednesday. Players and coaches met with reporters as fall camp begins.  Below is a transcript of head coach Matt Luke's press conference.

Opening statement...
"Welcome! I am really excited to start fall camp. All the players reported back today, and it was awesome to see their smiling faces. You can tell they're ready to get back to playing football. It's really good to see their excitement and energy. We have some personnel issues I want to discuss. Ken Webster and Detric Bing-Dukes were arrested. We gathered all the information, I spoke with them and their families, and they will be suspended for the first game. They're also going to have some community service. They will be practicing with us, but they are going to serve a one-game suspension for our opening game. Another unrelated matter, Octavious Cooley will not be in the 105. He has been suspended for violation of team rules. We do expect to have him back at some point. 

Having said that, I am really excited about getting started tonight. I am excited to see Coach (Phil) Longo's offense. Shea (Patterson) and the receivers have been working all summer and I am looking forward to seeing their rapport when we practice tonight. I am excited about seeing the O-line and Jordan Wilkins coming back at running back, and a healthy Eric Swinney.

(Wesley) McGriff has done a great job with building our defense. I am excited to see his energy. We have some great leaders over there (Breeland Speaks, Marquis Haynes) and I am really excited to see them step up and be leaders. 

I am fired up and ready to get cranking and get this season started."

On the hiring of Jack Bicknell Jr. as O-line coach...
"I have three guys on my staff with head coaching experience in Coach Longo, Coach (Bradley) Peveto and Coach Bicknell. Coach Bicknell was the WAC Coach of the Year, a head coach for eight years, been in the NFL for seven years and won a Super Bowl ring. One of my first calls was to Eli Manning. I am excited to see him interact with the players today and feel real fortunate to get a coach of his caliber this late in the game."

On health of team...
"We have a few minor injuries. Van Jefferson tweaked his knee and had a minor surgery on his knee, but we expect a full recovery. Javon Patterson had surgery on his shoulder, but we expect him back. (Jacob) Mathis may be limited early, but he'll be full go very soon. Eric Swinney will be full go no restrictions."

On status of Isaiah Woullard...
"He's not going to be on the 105, but he may be coming later, we have to determine that moving forward. We're so excited about Isaiah. He's a great kid and a really good player. He's going to have a bright future at Ole Miss."

On any changes O-line will have to adjust to without him as position coach...
"I told the guys if there is one position on this team that can handle this change it's you guys. They're excited about the challenge, and I challenged them to extend their leadership outside the (O-line) room to the entire team. They do have the ability to be leaders because of their ability on and off the field. I feel like that unit above anybody else, can handle it."

With latest incident, what will be the message to team...
"The message to the team was nobody is perfect, but when you do cross the line, there is accountability. There is a price you have to pay. We still love them. They're both great kids, but when you do make a mistake there are going to be consequences. They know there is going to be accountability."

On focusing more on defense and what needs to be done to fix it...
"We're not looking back at last year, we're moving forward. The biggest thing is keeping it simple. Knowledge equals confidence equals playing fast. That's our goal to keep it simple and let the guys go play hard. We have some ability, some guys coming back with experience. But our main focus will be keeping it simple and playing good, hard, sound football."

On shifting to head coach and getting attention of team...
"You be yourself. I lean on all the other great head coaches that I've been around in my 18-year coaching career. I've been around some great guys who've had success at every level. You lean on the experiences that you've had, but then you put your own flavor on it. You have to be yourself, you can't be somebody that you're not. You take all that you have learned and put your own stamp on it."

On togetherness of team in light of all the changes...
"After all the adversity we have a chance to be the most mentally tough team in the country. They've been through so much and that's going to bring them together. That is your motivation. You're playing for the guy next to you. You're playing for the guy that is wearing the same jersey and helmet as you."

On reception in recruiting circles...
"It's been great so far. Ole Miss sales itself. They like what we've done and they've seen some tangible evidence of us being really good. They're anxious to see what we do on the field. Just the like the fans, we have to go out there and show them what we're about. Our players sell this place. When they come here on visits and see our players doing workouts they say `man coach these guys are bringing the energy.' We just have to go out there and take care of business."

On his take on discipline...
"All I can do is do what I think is best for the team right now. I felt like after gathering all the information that we had to make sure that we send a clear concise message that if there are certain lines crossed there will be consequences to be paid. We felt like that was the best thing to do for this team."

On the mentality of the team `if we can't go, no one can'
"We have to have a blue collar mentality. We earn everything we get. There is not a lot of pressure on us. People aren't giving us much respect. We have to go out and play good, hard, sound football and be a blue collar team, no prima donnas. That's the type of team I want to have."

Any freshman that could make an impact...
"D.D. Bowie has a great skill set. He'll have an opportunity to step in the secondary early. Ryder Anderson is a guy who came in a little thin, but has gained a bunch of weight. He may do some things off the edge. Qaadir Shepard is a guy not many people know much about because he's a transfer who had to sit out last year. He's a guy that has been impressive to me. C.J. Miller maybe at safety, a lot of young linebackers. It'll be interesting when we get on the field and after the first day of pads, we'll be able to tell a lot more."

On which side of the ball he'll be on in practice...
"When I made the decision to hire an offensive line coach, I made the decision to be the head coach. I will be on both sides of the field. I may gravitate toward the o-line a little more, that's just who I am, but I will be on both sides of the ball. I am going to be encouraging and we're going to fly around and have a lot of energy."

On frustration of video that went out last week...
"It wasn't a frustration. I just wanted to make sure that they know that I've been preparing for this job my entire career. I've been here 14 years as a player/coach and I don't plan on going anywhere." 

On emotions and not thinking big picture of trying to get job next season...
"I am an emotional person, so that will be there. You can't get too far ahead of yourself. One practice at a time, one day at a time, one game at a time. If we take care of that, the big picture will take care of itself."

Any chance Bowie or Myles Hartsfield would move back to safety...
"They've talked about a bunch of different possibilities. That's what camp is for, to work different possibilities and see which one works best. It's still too early to tell with some of the young guys. We just have to see how quickly they pick up the game. Sometimes the speed of the game is tough on young guys, sometimes it's not. Practices will tell the tale there."

On talking to other head coaches who have made the transition in a similar way...
"I spoke with Barry Odom, but mainly I've relied on Coach (David) Cutcliffe), Coach (Phil) Fulmer and Coach (Mike) MacIntyre, guys that are part of my coaching tree and helped develop who I am."

On advice they gave him...
"Be yourself. Take what you've learned, but be yourself. Don't try to be somebody you're not. Be yourself and it will be good enough."

On if practice structure will change any...
"Ninety-five percent of everything we do will be the same, it's just the five percent of my own stamp that will be put on it. Maybe a little more inside run, a little more flying around, more energy."

On if they'll be any huddle offense or all no-huddle...
"Knowing Coach Longo, he goes fast and there won't be any huddles. We're going to play fast, so from that standpoint it won't be any different, but the terminology is a lot different and there are some new wrinkles. He utilizes the field. He's a talented guy. I am excited to see with Shea and the receivers and a talented o-line what they do this season."

On Ken Webster's health...
"He's been limited a little bit, but they've been easing him back into it. I expect him to be out there at practice getting after it. But the first time he has to go make that hit, getting over it mentally will be his next hurdle." 

On the physical nature of practice...
"I believe in competing, but I also know you have to get your players to the game healthy. We'll chave two major scrimmages as well as some practices where we get after it. We may ramp it up a little bit, but it's going to be short bursts where we hit the speed of the game."


 

 

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