Luke Recaps Alabama Game, Previews Auburn Game (With Video)

Ole Miss Football Head Coach Matt Luke met with the media Monday to recap the Alabama game, and preview Saturday’s game at No. 12 Auburn (11 a.m. CT, SEC Network).

Opening Statement…
“After reviewing the tape, we want to give a lot of credit to Alabama. They beat us soundly in all three phases. I think the biggest thing for our guys is simplifying and getting their confidence back to go play fast. We didn’t play very fast. When I watched the tape we didn’t seem sure of ourselves and weren’t attacking. I think the biggest way to get that back is to simplify. We will continue to watch the tape and make corrections and move on to another tough SEC opponent on the road at 11 a.m. Auburn is very good defensively and they have a very good front seven. They are really attacking very strong and are a top five defense in the country. Offensively, they are going to run the ball and attack us in the speed sweep motion. They are going to take our eyes and mess with our safety fits, and they have two very good running backs, a good offensive line, and then good receivers they stretch the field with. It is a huge challenge for us, but eight opportunities left. We are excited to get back and get started.”

On the challenge to recuperate physically after Alabama compared to other teams…
“Anytime you play a SEC game, there is going to be some physical toll, but overall we came out pretty healthy. I was very pleased with Sean Rawlings, there was very few guys that could have played, but very impressed with him. He is sore and will probably be limited in practice on Tuesday and Wednesday. Same thing for Dawson Knox. Defensively, Qaadir Sheppard has a little bit of an ankle injury and may be limited, but I think he will play. Gary (Wunderlich) tightened up, but other than that we came out pretty healthy.”

On the blitz…
“On third down that was some of the pressure in our empty protection. They did a nice job with that. They were able to bring an extra guy, one more than we could handle, so they did a nice job with that pressure, so you have to give them credit.”

On what players gave effort at the end…
“The guy that stands out to me offensively is Jordan Wilkins. He was a warrior on Saturday, he ran hard and broke tackles. I am very pleased with Jordan. Defensively, Breeland Speaks played really hard. He played inside, he played outside. He just gave a ton of effort. I told those two guys yesterday, after watching the tape, that they stood out in my mind from start to finish and that they gave great effort.”

On pass protection…
“Our one-on-one stuff was pretty good. We did have some times where we got beat on one-on-ones but when you are playing a team like Alabama, that’s going to happen some. We need to throw the ball on time and stay ahead of the chains so you can run some shorter routes. On the blitzing, they got us one time on a screen, where the linemen were releasing. We got sacked one time on a screen and then the empty protection, those are the ones that jumped out at me. There were a couple one-on-one situations, but there are going to be sometimes where you win one-on-one situations against Alabama and they are going to win some too. You have to try to limit those. Again, staying out of the long yardage where they had a chance to pin their ears back, that’s the lesson coming out of that. You don’t want to be in third and long very often.”

On Shea Patterson’s health and leaving him in the game…
“Shea is a sophomore and we are trying to get him as much experience as possible. He was coming up to me, wanting to stay in the game and wanting to compete. I think him getting as much experience as possible is important.”

On the fumbles…
I think our emphasis is on simplifying and playing fast. I think we are good enough to score points. We just have to simplify and know what to do. We are good enough to run the football and we are good enough to make plays, we just need to simplify and go execute. When we get in the red-zone we have to score points. The big emphasis will be on third-down this week. We have to convert on third down to stay on the field. If you don’t stay on the field on third-down, you aren’t scoring points. I think that is a huge emphasis for us, staying on the field and having a great third-down plan and scoring points. I know we are good enough, we just need to go simplify, play fast and get it done.”

On finding offensive success against Auburn…
I think every week you are going to play a good defensive opponent. Obviously Auburn presents a lot of challenges. They are very long in the secondary so they can cover your receivers and get pressure on the quarterback. I think we have to play fast and simplify so Shea (Patterson) knows exactly where to go with the football. It is the same recipe, play fast, be simple, know exactly what you are doing and just go and attack them. Not play on your heels, but get them on their heels by attacking. I think that is the most important thing that we need to do. I kind of felt that Saturday we were on our heels, I think we need to be the ones to attack, that’s why they call it offense. We need to be the ones that are attacking and that’s what we have to get back to this week.”

On off the field distractions…
“I am going to give Alabama a lot of credit. We need to be mentally focused enough to keep our focus on the football. I think that is our challenge this week moving forward. We have eight opportunities and we are going to take advantage of each one, starting with Auburn.  We are going to take 70 guys to Auburn, ready to go play and pushing the same direction to fight and compete.”

On defining the term simplicity…
“Whenever you are struggling, I think the more you can eliminate where guys can just focus, that’s what that means. You take some stuff out, where you can just focus and rep the same thing against everything you could possibly get. I think the more that you simplify, the faster the kids will play and the more they will understand what is going on and can problem solve on the field. If you have the best schemes in the world, it doesn’t matter. It is not about what the coaches know, it’s about what the kids can execute on the field. Execute it not only in their base but when there is pressure. We have talented kids, but we also have young kids and they need to know exactly what they can do in order to go play fast and compete.”

On the learning experiences from Alabama…
“The biggest thing is getting across to the team that we are 2-2. We are no better and we are no worse. I think when you play Alabama it shows them, this is how far we have to go and I think they need to keep their confidence. We need to go back and simplify and we need to go back to work. That is the only way to get the bad taste out of your mouth, to get back on the practice field and go to work. The good thing is that college football is so week-to-week. You have a chance every week to go compete and get better and that’s going to start this Saturday at Auburn.”

On if he felt like the team responded yesterday…
“I do. Throughout my tenure here, we have had a lot of gut punches and a lot of tough losses, but we have always responded and have always bounced back and they will again.”

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