Luke, Rebels Turn Attention to Louisiana
Nov. 8, 2017

By Brian Scott Rippee,

There’s a renewed since of energy in the Ole Miss football building after the Rebels finally had a close game turn in their favor. The team went full pads on Tuesday before Matt Luke scaled back and took the pads off indoors on Wednesday. Nine games into the season, the biggest challenge is staying healthy and energetic.

“We went full pads yesterday,” Luke said. “It was raining today so we went inside and took the pads off just trying to stay fresh down the stretch. I thought the focus and energy has been good.”

Ole Miss has a chance to get back to .500 for the first time since September. It must first take care of business against a 4-4 Louisiana team coming off of a win over South Alabama. The Rajun Cajuns have used a number of different quarterbacks this season, most recently Levi Lewis who completed 8 out of 15 passes and tossed two touchdowns in last week’s win. He also ran 28 times for 129 yards. The Rebels only have one game’s worth of film on Lewis, which makes the dual-threat quarterback even more difficult to scheme for.

“You only have one game to watch, but he can really hurt you with his legs,” Luke said. “He has really good short-are quickness that can make people miss. That obviously concerns you because you can’t always account for the quarterback and that is tough to do. I think we have to do a great job of always keeping a hat on the quarterback almost like you are playing option football to have someone to account for him. He is a very good player.”

The Rebels have begun to garner a bit of bit of momentum, particularly on the offensive side of the football. Jordan Ta’amu stepped in and the unit has not missed a beat. A lot of that is a credit to how well the junior signal caller has played. Part of it is due to the balance the team has shown over the last month thanks to its ability to run the football. Ole Miss struggled mightily in this area through the first four games of the season, but has rejuvenated the ground attack. It has created some semblance of balance which conversely keeps the opposing defense off balance.



“The balance has been better,” Luke said. “Everything is marrying and jiving, working together. I just think the biggest thing has been the balance. I think people not knowing what is coming.  Is it run, pass or play action? The receiver’s ability to make plays in the two high coverage. If you come into the box we will be able to make plays with our receivers. Just taking what the defense gives us and being balanced.”

The team has run for 694 yards in its last four games, a feat even more remarkable considering some the attrition the offensive line has endured. Ole Miss lost Daronte Bouldin for the season to a broken foot against Kentucky. Alex Givens exited that game with a concussion. Sean Rawlings has been banged up this year in a number of different places. The unit has not wavered.

“Really just putting our head down and going to work every day,” Jordan Sims said. “We knew we had a veteran group. It is just going to practice and working. Going to the games and holding one another accountable. You never know what is going to happen. You have to be ready.”

Sims has shuffled around the offensive line playing more than two different positions this season. He is now back at right guard because Givens’ status is unknown for Saturday’s game.

“You never like injuries,” Sims said. “The only thing we can do is get more guys ready to play and just keep going to work. That is all it is.”

Kickoff on Saturday is set for 11 a.m.




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