GAMEDAY: Rebels Host UT Martin
Sept. 9, 2017

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By Brian Scott Rippee,

Oxford, Miss - Matt Liuke is seeking improvements across the board as Ole Miss makes the jump from game one to game two in its 2017 campaign against the UT Martin Skyhawks. The Rebels won the only other meeting between the two schools in 2015 by a score of 76-3.

"They have a lot of returning starters on defense with seven, and five of those guys are seniors," Luke said. "They shut out their first opponent, held them to 136 yards and 0-for-13 on third down. So they're a very good defensive football team. Offensively, they get the ball out quickly and they don't take a whole bunch of sacks. They use a lot of motion in the run game to try to take your eye. So we're going to have to be very disciplined with our eyes in the run game."

Ole Miss exploded for 531 yards of offensve in its season opener against South Alabama. Obviously, Luke was pleased with how Phil Longo's offense moved the ball up-and-down the field. But he wants to see the Rebels play even faster this week. 

"I want to see us play with a little bit better tempo on offense. I want score touchdown in the red zone," Luke said.

Defensively, he wants to see Ole Miss tackle more efficiently. South Alabama broke a couple of runs in the second level last week, and Luke said it was due to missed tackles.

"I think the glaring thing was missed tackles, then a little bit too big of a drop off from the ones to the twos," Luke said. "I want to see some guys step up there when we watch the tape. We really have a challenge there to build our depth."

Ole Miss did not lean heavily on the running game against the Jaguars, but you may see more of an emphasis on it against UT Martin. Luke was happy with the efficiency of the run game when called upon.

"We had a couple of wasted runs, but we also had some good runs. We had a lot of plays where Shea Patterson pulled it and threw it when runs were there," Luke said. "Some of that is just our offense, and you have to live with it. The whole key for us is being efficient in the run game. We had a couple of draws that were actually pass yardage, so there's some hidden yardage there in the run game."

UT Martin provides a bit of a different look defensively with their 3-3-5 scheme. Luke had the benefit of seeing it in 2015 and knows how difficult it can be to move the ball against. 

"The challenge is they can show a lot of different looks with those three linebackers," Luke said. "They can create a lot of different looks. They can create bear looks. They can go a four-down look by stepping one of them off. Then, they can drop back into coverage and rush three. They can do a lot. It is very multiple in the looks that you can get, so you have to be prepared. There is a lot of movement involved. You are going to have to make some post-snap adjustments based on where they end up."

Overall, this week will be about this young team taking another step forward in its development before the schedule begins to get tough.

This week is about us trying to create a standard of how we want to prepare and how we want to practice, and we're looking forward to the challenge," Luke said.

Kickoff is slated for 11 a.m.






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