Matt Luke Weekly Press Conference
Nov. 6, 2017

Ole Miss Football Head Coach Matt Luke met with the media Monday to recap the win over Kentucky, and preview Saturday’s matchup with Louisiana (11 a.m., SEC Network).

Watch

Opening Statement…
“I’m really happy for our players. Anytime you can go on the road in the SEC and get a win, it’s a good thing. But, especially after the tough loss against Arkansas. The kids bouncing back and fighting and competing, just really happy to see them in the locker room after getting that win after everything they’ve been through.”

Injury Report…
“Daronte Bouldin broke his foot and he’s done for the season. He’s a special kid. He came in with us five years ago. He was playing this year, already graduated. I’m just really proud of what he’s been able to accomplish. He’s a big reason we’ve had a lot of success while he’s been here. Alex Givens is in concussion protocol. We’ll find out more about him later in the week. Jordan Wilkins was probably 75-80 percent in the game but battled through it. Hopefully we’ll have him for this week. Defensively, Austrian Robinson bruised his lung last week and practice and wasn’t able to make the trip. He’s day-to-day. And then Jalen Julius is in the concussion protocol as well.”

On Louisiana…
“Just watching a little bit on Louisiana-Lafayette, I was very impressed with their interior defensive linemen – they’re very active. Offensively, they took the redshirt off of a quarterback who can really run. We only have one game of film to watch of him, last week against South Alabama. He’s very mobile and does a good job with the zone read. I have a lot of respect for (head coach) Mark Hudspeth and coach (offensive coordinator) Will Hall. I’ve known those guys for a long time. Looking forward to a great kickoff being back at home at Vaught-Hemingway.”

On avoiding a letdown after two emotional games…
“The biggest thing is we have 17 days left guaranteed together, and we have to make the best of those 17 days. That’s what we talked about in the locker room after the game. With this young team only having 12 seniors, we talk about, ‘Hey, we’re learning how to get better. We’re learning how to win. If you keep putting yourself in position to win games, you’re going to win your share.’ We just talk about getting one week better and taking advantage of all 17 days we’re guaranteed left together.”

On how he avoids thinking about the coaching search…
“The players. All the stuff these players have been through, that’s why you do what you do. How hard they get up and keep fighting each week. Every week it’s motivating them because everyone says, ‘When’s this team going to quit?’ I think after the Arkansas game everyone was like, ‘Well, they’re just going to lay down.’ But they keep showing up and keep fighting. It’s just awesome to be a part of this team. We talked Friday night about being grateful for this team and how much they’ve stuck together. It’s very rewarding to see those guys have an opportunity to go on the road and get a big win like that. You can see it in their faces. That’s where the focus is: on the players and how much they’ve stuck together through this. You can’t let the future creep in your mind. You want it to. It’s a dream of yours since you were a little kid. You have to focus. That’s what my dad always taught me. You just have to do the best job where you’re at and everything else will take care of itself.”

On Jordan Ta’amu’s performance vs. Kentucky…
“You wouldn’t believe it was his second start, especially the way he led that last drive. It’s very impressive. I think he’s earned the respect of the guys in the locker room. The big thing you said was no turnovers. He was calm in the pocket. I think we gave up a sack on the first drive, but he didn’t get rattled on the road. Just very impressive. A lot of credit to him and coach Phil Longo both.”

On if he’s surprised by Ta’amu’s performance…
“Not surprised. I saw his ability to run in practice. Every time we had a scrimmage, he showed he could throw it. What you don’t know is if he can go out there and do it with live bullets flying, and he showed that he can. Not surprised at his ability. Maybe surprised at how well he’s handled the live bullets. You can’t expect a guy to go in there his second start and do that.”

On defensive improvements…
“Just executing. Getting them in 3rd-and-long, stopping the run, and then executing third downs and getting off the field. That was huge. It was the turning point in the game. You’re on the road, Breeland Speaks goes out of the game for targeting, and you’re down 10 points. And then they get 3-and-out, and that gave us the chance to tie the game and take the lead. Credit to coach Wesley McGriff and the defense for getting that done. When you’re on the road, you’ve got to get stops, and that’s what they did.”

On Ta’amu’s effect on the running game…
“It’s the same stuff schematically. The running game was efficient. I think our running backs averaged around six yards per carry. They do have to respect Jordan. Some of our RPOs it did create D.K. Metcalf’s long touchdown and some of the other RPOs that we were hitting. They were having to put a safety in the box to stop the run. That opens up some of your other stuff. Our run game didn’t have gaudy numbers, but it did open up some of those 383 yards of passing. I thought D’Vaughn Pennamon ran really hard and made some big plays for us as well.”

On the depth at offensive guard…
“Jack DeFoor has been practicing at guard. We could also try Royce Newman as well. There’s also a chance for Alex Givens to come back.”

On how the Kentucky win boosts the team’s confidence…
“It’s good for those kids to feel what it feels like to win. Because it’s totally different. Just getting that feeling is always something that’s really positive.”

Follow Ole Miss Football on Twitter (@OleMissFB), Facebook and Instagram in addition to www.OleMissSports.com.


 

 

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