Luke Ready to Lead Rebels Into Game Action
Aug. 30, 2017

By Brian Scott Rippee, OleMissSports.com

Matt Luke has quickly become known for his speeches. He’s always been a fiery guy with the ability to motivate people. It’s in his very nature as an offensive line coach.

That skill has captivated his team as Luke has stepped into the spotlight that comes with being an SEC head coach.

Defensive backs coach Jason Jones recalled an instance last week in practice that stuck with him.

“In our mock game Saturday night, he got fired up and started talking to the team,” Jones said. ”He started jumping around. The team started jumping around and we had to settle down because it is not game day yet. He is a passionate guy and he loves this University.”

Luke’s presence has been felt since day one. His ability to send a message that registers and capture his team’s attention has kept them together as a cohesive unit through some of the obstacles they’ve faced.

“His presence on the field and the way he talks to us,” sophomore wide receiver D.K. Metcalf said. “He can really motivate us before we go out to practice. I have never been so motivated just to go practice from his speeches.”

Each day is different, but they generally follow similar themes.

“He talks every day about mental toughness,” Metcalf said. “That is a big thing even when your mind is quitting. You have more left in the tank. That is one thing he harps on every day.”


 

 

With all of the noise surrounding the program over the course of the last few months, Luke has made things simple and kept the team honed in on football. It’s made for more enjoyable practices and even a jolt in morale.

“He has done an amazing job from day one when he stepped into to be the head coach,” Jones said. “You can tell by the way he handles the team and the way he comes in addressing the staff that he is ready to be a head coach. He is the right fit for the job. The players love him. He will start talking to the team and you can see his passion. The players will start chanting ‘Coach Luke, Coach Luke.’”

Perhaps the biggest speech of Luke’s young coaching career to this point will come on Saturday night as he faces his team moments before taking the field against South Alabama. It’s a moment he’s dreamed about for a long time. As much as he preaches mental toughness, it’s taken just that from him to stay patient as game day arrives. He has a general idea of what he will say when he looks his team in the eye, but raw emotion will eventually take the wheel.

Usually I have a plan and then it goes to spontaneous,” Luke said. “I will probably have some bullet points and then just probably let  emotion take over from there.”

Luke has been around Ole Miss for the majority of his life, which makes this day one to savor. Not only for him, but his entire family.

“I hoping we will just embrace the moment,” Luke said. "It is special. I think the thing that helps me is that it really isn’t about me. It is about these kids and I don’t think you can make it about anybody. It is a collective group and I am just so proud of these kids and what they have been through with the staff.”

Luke has heard from coaches and teammates going all the way back to his playing days. As slow as it may seem to be crawling towards him, eventually that moment Saturday will get here. He’ll address his team. He’ll jog out of the tunnel onto Jerry Hollingsworth Field just as he’s done countless times before. Only this time, he will lead the way as head coach.

“I think the biggest thing is you have to go out and try to be yourself and not act like you think you are supposed to act,” Luke said. “You won’t do as good of a job. I think I have to go out there and be myself and what happens from that point happens. At least you know you did it as you.”

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