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Game Week Begins, Rebel Coaches Discuss South Alabama Matchup

Ole Miss HC Matt Luke at Week 1’s press conference. Photo by Steven Gagliano

Fall camp has concluded, and it’s officially game week! Matt Luke will take the field on Saturday for the first time as the head coach of the Ole Miss Rebels alongside new coordinators on both sides of the ball. OC Phil Longo and DC Wesley McGriff have implemented their systems and have now turned their attention to the Rebels’ first opponent, the South Alabama Jaguars.
All three members of the Ole Miss staff stood at the podium earlier today and answered questions from the media about the upcoming matchup. The Jaguars know what it takes to beat an SEC opponent having knocked off Mississippi State in the season opener in 2016, Luke talked about how important it will be to get off to a fast start, and the difficulty in preparing for a season opener. After eight years on the staff as an assistant, Luke discussed how he plans to keep his emotions in check as he walks out of the tunnel for Saturday’s game.
On the x’s and o’s side of things, Luke and the other coaches spoke about depth. At the running back position, Luke said fans might see four backs including Jordan Wilkins as the starter. Longo and McGriff will handle play calling duties on their respective sides of the ball, and Luke talked about his role and the importance of handling the clock, timeouts, and situational football. The sidelines will be full as TE coach Maurice Harris, defensive GA Zach Brown, and offensive GA Josh Robinson will be the only coaches in the box.
Hear Luke’s Full Remarks below:

DC Wesley McGriff talked about his style during practice and how it may change during the game. With an emphasis on building players up on the sidelines, McGriff has brought a new energy to the Rebel defense since he arrived. Linebacker and safety continue to be a spot to watch for improvement on the defense, and McGriff talked about the versatility of players like Myles Hartsfield, D.D. Bowie, and Jaylon Jones in the secondary and how that will help the Rebel defense. McGriff knows that mistakes will be made in the first game, but he knows they must minimize those mistakes in order to revive the Rebel defense after a disappointing 2016.
“They are going to challenge us early and often in the vertical game. That’s their forte, that’s their DNA.”

OC Phil Longo will be calling the plays for the Rebel offense. Throughout spring and fall camp, we’ve heard about the tempo and the speed of his system. Longo talked about how it can be slowed down to help the defense, the role of the running game and how they will work to “chase space.” Longo mentioned that eight offensive linemen might enter the rotation on Saturday. Starting TE Dawson Knox won’t play because of a foot injury, and Longo discussed how they will work to replace him on the field with several different players. Heading into the opener, Longo discussed the challenge of preparing for South Alabama.
“What they did last year, may or may not be what they do on Saturday.”

Steven Gagliano is the managing editor of HottyToddy.com. He can be reached at steven.gagliano@hottytoddy.com

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