Ole Miss Press Conference: 11.11

Matt Luke (photo by Joshua McCoy)

Matt Luke (photo by Joshua McCoy)

Nov. 11, 2013

Ole Miss football assistant head coach Matt Luke met with the media Monday to discuss the Rebels' win over Arkansas and upcoming game against Troy.

BLOG: Rebels Excited But Not Satisfied

Assistant Head Coach Matt Luke

Opening statement:

“Coach Freeze asked me to do the press conference today. He’s taking care of some personal business. He’ll be back first thing in the morning. Coming off of the Arkansas victory, we’re very, very excited about being bowl eligible. We’re excited for our players and our fans. Being bowl eligible two years in a row is part of our goals. I don’t think we’re satisfied, but obviously very excited about that. In some areas of the game we maybe played a little bit sluggish (against Arkansas). The guys stepped up and made enough plays to win. As you guys know, any victory in the SEC is a good victory. We’re very, very proud of that. We came out of the game relatively healthy. I believe (John) Youngblood got banged up and came out of the game early. He’s probably questionable. Chief Brown got a stinger. He’s probable. We’re going to look at Jeff Scott and see if he can practice tomorrow. We’ll know more about that tomorrow. Coach Freeze will be back to answer any of the questions about the injuries tomorrow after practice. We’ll know a lot more after tomorrow’s practice. We’re excited about playing Troy. I’ve got a lot of respect for Troy and Coach (Larry) Blakeney. He always has a great program and does a great job. He’s got a tremendous senior quarterback in (Corey) Robinson. He’s very, very good. They’ve got a good receiver and running back. They’re good on defense. They’re impressive. They play a lot of man coverage and blitz a bunch. We’re going to have our work cut out for us and have to do a really, really good job to beat those guys.”

On Troy’s defensive front:

“They’ve got a really good defensive end that leads them in sacks. They are a pressure-oriented defense. They move around a lot to try to counter not being very big. Both of their ends are very, very fast. Obviously the tackles are going to have to play really well.”

On Laremy Tunsil earning SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week:

“He’s ultra talented. He fought through being sick all week. Still, when you turn the tape on, you don’t see any drop off. He hardly practiced any this week. I’m very fortunate to coach a guy like that. He’s one of those guys that doesn’t come along very often. You’re just excited to coach a guy like that. He’s unbelievably talented. But not only that, he’s a great young man. He goes to work everyday. He doesn’t feel entitled. He’s just a great kid and a great player. He’s very deserving of the award and fortunate he’s getting some of that recognition.”

On Donte Moncrief’s increase in production lately:

“I don’t think anything has changed other than a lot of people are trying to take him away in coverage. We’ve had to do some things. Obviously with the run game getting a little bit better, you have to play some single-high coverages, which gets him in man-to-man situations. He’s winning those. What we have to do offensively is be balanced. We have to be able to run the football. When we can do that, we’ll create the opportunities for him and other receivers to make plays in the passing game.”

On Bo Wallace and third-down conversions:

“The first thing he has to do is manage the protections and get the protections right. On third down is when the defenses like to get funky and maybe bring a little bit different looks. So you have to get yourself protected first. He’s done a good job of that all year. Obviously, he’s stepping in there and making some throws. He’s started to make a couple of plays with his legs where he runs for some big first downs. Arkansas brought one more than we could block, and he stepped up and made a big throw under pressure and it was a big first down on the last drive to eat up some time and take some of their timeouts. He has done well. He’s got to handle the protection and step up and make the throw. If the play breaks down, he’s getting a couple of first downs with his legs. I’ve been very pleased with that.”

On how the O-line graded out vs. Arkansas:

“We were pretty good. No. 91 inside for Arkansas was very talented and gave us some problems inside. Overall, we played really well. We were maybe a little bit sluggish, at times. We stepped up and made the plays that we needed to. I don’t think it was our best game, but we did play pretty well.”

On confidence in being bowl eligible nine games into the season:

“The confidence level is good. The guys are excited about going to a bowl game, but I don’t think that they’re satisfied. Not that they expected it, but they expect more of themselves. We want to finish playing our best football. That’s our challenge coming out this week in practice. This next game should be our best game because it should be our most experienced and our most game ready. Some of those older guys are stepping up, and the young guys have some experience under their belt now. Hopefully we’ll play our best football these last three games of the regular season.”

On run game suffering versus Arkansas:

“They did a nice job of getting an extra hat in the box on some of our run game stuff. That opened up some of the stuff in the passing game. They were willing to play some single-high coverages on our receivers. That’s obviously created some chances for those guys to make plays. I was pleased with Jaylen (Walton) and I’Tavius (Mathers). They were able to run hard. I was really excited with the passing game being able to step in there when somebody does crowd the box and take away the run. We were able to take advantage of the pass. To me, that’s what offense is. It’s all about total yardage. We have the ability to do both, run and pass, so that makes us a little bit unpredictable and hard to defend.”

On passing numbers on Saturday:

“We’re obviously very excited. Our main goal is to try to be balanced and to try to hurt you both ways. That’s what we have to do. If somebody takes away our passing game by playing two safeties, we have to be able to run the football. If they try to crowd the box, we’ve got to be able to throw it. That’s kind of what our offense is predicated on. Making sure we do a good job with what the defense gives us and taking advantage of the opportunities that we have.”

On false starts on Saturday:

“They had some things where the defensive line was moving and saying something. I don’t know if they were simulating the snap count or not, but their defensive line was moving right before the snap. Our guys got a little antsy. That’ something we’re going to work on in practice and see if we can get that corrected.”

On jumping in and out of SEC play:

“I don’t think it’s a challenge for focus. We have to focus on us and getting better. That’s the main thing. Again, we do want to finish going up. To do that, each game has to be an improvement. There are certainly a lot of areas for improvement from the Arkansas game.  That’s a good thing. It’s always good to teach them things coming off a win, especially coming off a win in conference. Our goal is to focus on us and to get better. We want to finish these last three games playing our best football.”

On receivers:

“We’re really fortunate to have all of those guys. Coach (Grant) Heard does a great job. Those guys play hard. They’re very unselfish. There have been times where we’ve asked them to block on the perimeter and they’ve done that. They’re just very, very unselfish. It’s good to see those guys step up and make plays because they’re all great young men and great players. It is a luxury to have those guys. It’s tough for a defense because now you don’t have to cover just one guy. You can’t put your best corner on one guy. It does create some matchup problems for defenses.”

On sluggishness on Saturday:

“If we knew, we could have gotten it fixed. Maybe it was the early morning kickoff. I felt like we didn’t play our best football in some areas. We did get the win. The guys stepped up and made plays and energized the crowd. I thought that was really, really good. I don’t know if it was the 11 o’clock kickoff or what it was. I just felt that it was a little bit sluggish out there. We needed some guys to step up and make some plays to get us going a little bit.”

On Robert Nkemdiche’s ejection:

“I haven’t looked at it. Obviously watching the offense, I didn’t see it. I think I was on my knee coaching the O-line when it happened. I actually didn’t see it. Usually it’s the second guy that got caught. I’m not sure what exactly happened.”

On Jaylen Walton running inside:

“My guys like the way he hits it in there. For his size, he has no fear. He’s a guy that offensive linemen love to block for. Both of those guys fight for extra yards. Mark Dodson is really coming on. He’s done a great job running physical. He had a couple of carries. We have several backs that can help us and we’re pleased with all of them.  Jaylen, I really love the way he runs, not only outside, but also in between the tackles.”

On making a bowl and heightened expectations:

“It’s always one of your goals when you start the season. You want to play in the postseason. Not only playing the bowl game, but you get several extra practices where you get a chance to get your young guys into the practice and get some extra works. It’s almost like another spring practice to some degree. I do like the fact that the expectation level has risen. They’re not satisfied with just getting six, but trying to build this program and take it to where we all want it to be.”

On Mark Dodson:

“He always goes out there and works hard. I was really excited about how physical he’s been running, getting yards after contact and running through tackles. That adds a dimension to us. That’s what we saw in practice and in the Idaho game toward the end of the game. That’s obviously something that everybody likes to see.”

On Luke’s family being around:

“It’s mainly good. My dad is pretty critical. He comes to practice and critiques the O-line pretty good. It’s been great. You can’t put a price tag on time. Just getting to spend this time together is awesome. Just having Tom in the same building or my dad around a lot, it’s unbelievable. It’s a good feeling to know that they’re around and you’re going to see them. That hasn’t been the case except for last year. It’s been a blessing.”

On positive effects to having a six-game home stand:

“We’ve got great fans. It’s always good to play at home. Coach Freeze always does a great job emphasizing how important it is to play in Vaught-Hemingway and in front of our fans. It’s really good. That’s why they call it a home-field advantage. When we play here, it is an advantage because of our fans. They’ve shown up every week. To play this many home games, it has been good. It was tough early on with the road stretch that we had, but to come home and play in front of our fans has been good.”

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