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Luke Looks Past NCAA Sanctions, Pledges Full Steam Ahead at SEC Media Days

By Adam Brown
Sports Editor

Ole Miss Head Football Coach Matt Luke addresses the media at the 2019 SEC Media Days in Hoover. Photo courtesy of Ole Miss Athletics. 

Ole Miss head football coach Matt Luke told the media at SEC Media Days in Hoover, Alabama that he’s excited for a new chapter of Ole Miss football. 

The Rebels are coming off a 5-7 season in 2018 that brought some changes to the program with two new offensive and defensive coordinators – Rich Rodriguez and Mike MacIntyre.

“I think when you hire two former National Coaches of the Year, I think that obviously brings a wealth of knowledge to your staff, but I think it also makes a statement,” Luke said. “I think it makes a statement to our commitment to winning and about what we’re trying to do at Ole Miss.”

In addition to the two new hires, the Rebels had a very busy and productive offseason signing 31 new recruits. It solidified a top 25 class for the program that was able to get back to a full 85 scholarships for the first time since the 2014 season, according to Luke.

Coach McIntyre brought with him from Colorado Boulder a whole new scheme to the Rebels’ defense. Ole Miss will go from a four down lineman to a 3-4 system. 

“I think you’re going to see a much-improved defense when we take the field against Memphis,” Luke said.

Rebel fans will see a lot of new faces on the offensive side of the ball, too.

“We’ve got to replace three new offensive linemen, three receivers, a new quarterback,” Luke said.

This season, the offense will be led by redshirt freshman Matt Corral who, in four games last season, passed for 239 yards and two touchdowns along with 83 yards on the ground with two touchdowns.

“Matt was the beneficiary of that four-game redshirt rule. So he was able to get those four games under his belt, and you can really see that in the spring,” Luke said.

The Ventura, California native brings a competitive fire and spirit that players gravitate toward, Luke said.

“Matt’s a very, very talented guy. He can make all of the throws. He can throw off-platform. He’s accurate from a bunch of different odd angles. He’s got escapability in the pocket, and then all of the intangibles with the toughness that we’ve already talked about. I think the combination of all of that made him the choice,” Luke said.

With the loss of former Athletic Director Ross Bjork to Texas A&M, Luke was asked what Bjork meant to his career.

“Obviously, I have a lot of respect for Ross and gratitude. He hired me and gave me this opportunity,” Luke said. “But really, really enjoyed my time with him. He does a great job of interacting with the coaches. He also did a bunch of things with our facilities and building new facilities. So, I think I got a lot of respect for him. I think he’ll do a great job.”

The Rebels kick off the 2019 season Aug. 31 as they take on the Memphis Tigers at 11 a.m. on ABC.

Adam Brown
Adam Brown
Sports Editor

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