Luke Pleased With Rebels' Performance, Shifts Focus to UT Martin
Sept. 4, 2017

By Brian Scott Rippee, 

Matt Luke and his staff were finally able to watch film of their team in an uncontrolled environment following Ole Miss’ 47-27 season-opening win on Saturday. Like most first games, there were a lot of things he thought they could clean up, but there were also a lot of good things they can build on.

One area that Luke was particularly pleased with is how the team started fast in the second half after heading into the locker room leading 13-10. The Rebels scored 27 points in the third quarter and secured the game pretty quickly when they came out onto the field for the second half.

“That was a point of emphasis for us was starting fast after some issues we had with that last year,” Luke said. “I was very pleased with that.”

The third quarter was a glimpse at just how explosive Phil Longo’s offense can be. But he’d like for them to play even faster.

“The tempo was probably my biggest disappointment,” Longo said. “We were thinking a little bit. My advice to our quarterbacks was that we never want to run a play fast if we are not ready to run it. That is really not a shot at Shea (Patterson) in any way. I think he took the time he needed to run the play. Ultimately, I think disappointment is too strong of a word. I just think our intention is to play faster and Shea’s intention is to play faster.”

Overall, it was strong showing from an offense that compiled 47 points and 531 yards of offense. Over 400 of those yards came via Patterson and the passing game. Patterson was an efficient 28-35, completing 80 percent of his throws.



“I am glad Shea took the time to identify the defense because it helped him perform the way that he did,” Longo said. “I think next week you will see a little bit of a difference there.”

As heavily as Ole Miss leaned on throwing the football on Saturday, Luke was pleased with how the Rebels ran the ball, citing a number of run-pass options in which Patterson made the correct read and threw the ball even if there was some space to run.

“The whole key for us is being efficient  in the run game when the opportunities are there,” Luke said. “We had a couple of draws that were actually pass yardage because we flipped, so there is some hidden yardage there. Obviously I think we need to keep improving. When people play to defend our receivers, we have to make our run game a weapon.”

It was evident on Saturday that Ole Miss will be dynamic in the passing game, and Luke said the emphasis going forward will be on polishing the run game.

Defensively, Ole Miss played 26 players in the game and got a look at a number of different guys. Luke said he was pleased with the starters, but showed concern with the drop off between the first and second teams.

“A little bit too much of a drop off between the ones and twos,” Luke said. “I want to see some guys step up there."

Luke pointed to Josiah Coatney and Breeland Speaks on the defensive line as guys who stood out and played well.

Wesley McGriff agreed with Luke’s assessment and added that he wants to see the team tackle better.

“Way too many yards after contact,” McGriff said. “That is certainly something we are going to pay attention to this week. I was not happy with the way we tackled. I thought we populated the football well, but just too many yards after that.”

McGriff saw some good things from the reserves including freshman linebacker Breon Dixon and fellow freshman safety C.J. Miller.

“We just have to continue to look at the second-line guys so to speak and close the gap,” McGriff said.

In the end, Ole Miss yielded just 370 yards of total offense.

Luke seemed pleased with his team’s opening performance and has now shifted his focus towards next week’s opponent UT Martin. Luke said he hopes to have Jordan Sims and Eugene Brazley back healthy for the game and that Qaadir Sheppard will be a game time decision. Dawson Knox will not play in the Rebels’ second game and Luke hopes he will be ready to play for the game against Cal.

D.D. Bowie injured a ligament in his thumb in the game. He had it wrapped up on the sideline late in the game. Luke did not have much of an update on his status other than that they will continue to monitor him going forward.

Kickoff on Saturday is set for 11:00 a.m.




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