Matt Luke Weekly Press Conference

Photo by Greg Pevey, Rebel Nation Magazine™

Luke Recaps LSU Game, Previews Saturday’s Tilt with Arkansas

Ole Miss Football Head Coach Matt Luke met with the media Monday to recap the LSU game, and preview Saturday’s tilt with Arkansas (11 a.m., SEC Network).

Opening Statement…
“After looking at the tape, offensively, I thought the O-line did a nice job in the run game, and I liked our balance. I credit LSU – they did a nice job of taking away our explosive plays. We had some nice opportunities down the field and didn’t hit them. To win those games, you have to make those plays. Defensively, I thought the kids played hard. I thought there were too many fit gaps and obviously, we didn’t stop the run well enough to win the game.”

Injury Report…
Sean Rawlings is in the concussion protocol and we’ll probably know by Wednesday whether he’ll be playing or not. Jordan Wilkins hurt his ankle and probably is questionable. We’ll probably find out Thursday about Jordan. And then Shea Patterson, it’s well-documented, he’s out for the year. Ross Donnelly hurt his knee, I would say he’s questionable. C.J. Moore strained his calf and he’s also questionable. Jarrion Street looks like he will be back.”

On Jason Pellerin moving back to quarterback…
“Just as far as throwing the ball, I think there will be some rust that he’ll have to shake off. He’s been in a game before. He had some packages last year and finished the second half of Georgia Southern. So he does have some experience, and I think that will help him. But, we’ll have to have a little bit different packages. He’ll be able to do some things with his legs in some wildcat formations. It won’t be anything new, it’ll be the same run schemes we already do, we’ll just utilize an extra blocker to get the quarterback running the ball some if he has to go in there.”

On how much Pellerin played at QB in the spring…
“A little bit, but not much. We were trying to get that move to tight end just to give him a chance to compete. I don’t think there will be much rust as far as the run game. I think it’ll be the pass concepts and the timing that will be the biggest challenges for him.”

On Jordan Ta’amu’s play vs. LSU…
“I was pleased. He was in there for two drives. He led us on a field goal drive right before the half and then a touchdown drive at the end of the game. I was pleased with his timing. He pulled the ball down and got positive yards and I think that’s one of his strengths. He can really run and he’s a very good athlete. I think everyone else around him has to step up. O-line, receivers and running backs have to do a great job keeping the game plan simple for him so he can just go execute. I think the more we do that, the better chance we have.”

On RB Eric Swinney filling in for the injured Wilkins…
“I’m hoping Jordan can play, it’s just with that ankle, you just don’t know, so he probably won’t practice until Wednesday or Thursday. But Swinney, I love his physicality. He’s looked like he’s got his burst back, which is what we all saw when he first got here and what we were all so excited about. I’m excited about Eric. He’ll do a great job if he gets in there.”

On Shea Patterson’s injury timetable…
“It’s going to be immobilized for probably 2-3 weeks. Then you go back and take another picture of it and see where it is, then you make the decision. He and his parents are all over here and everyone’s on the same page. With that injury, you go three weeks immobilizing it, then you go back and re-shoot it to find out what you’re going to do. In about three weeks we’ll find out about whether we’ll have surgery or not. I’m not sure exactly, but I believe that recovery process is 3-4 months.”

On Ta’amu’s decision making and urgency inside the pocket…
“As an offensive line coach, you always want to get rid of the ball fast. You don’t want a guy back there holding the ball, patting the ball. That was one of the things I saw in the game that he wasn’t doing. I was really pleased with that because the game does speed up when you get in this league. You have to make fast decisions. I thought he did a nice job of that in the game. If there was one thing he really needed to work on, that was it, and I thought he did a nice job of that when he had his opportunity.”

On Jarrion Street playing alongside DeMarquis Gates…
“I think that’s your most athletic duo right there at linebacker. I think Gates is experienced enough to get him lined up. But, it’ll depend on how much he’s able to do coming back. He is young and he hasn’t had a whole bunch of reps. If he’s able to go, you will see those two in there together at some point.”

On Ta’amu taking the starting role…
“I was very pleased with Jordan’s opportunity. You kind of have to base it on what you saw in the game. That’s really what we’re going off of. He’s very capable. He’s been preparing and his moment came and he stepped up at that moment and took advantage of the opportunities he had. I’m expecting to see more of the same, and I’m expecting everyone around him to raise their level up too. I think that’s a challenge for everybody.”

Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

On Arkansas…
“They’re a big, physical team. They’re going to come in here and run it at us. We’re going to have to do a great job of stopping the run. They’re going to make us prove that we can stop the run. Defensively, I thought they did a really good job in the first half of holding Auburn down. They had a big 4th-and-1 stop, had a pick and then the dam just kind of broke open on them. But I like the way they’re competing. They play with energy and fire. Dre Greenlaw has been there for a long time — very good linebacker. Their front three are physical. They play a three-down front. That’s the biggest change — they went from a four-down to a three-down front. But I was impressed with what I saw defensively on them.”

On stopping the run…
“The biggest thing we have to do is we have to be consistent and do the right thing over and over. If we get out of a gap a little bit, we’re not overcoming and making the play. We have to be right. We have to show up in the right gap, and everybody has to be in the right gap over and over again and be consistent. I think if we can get them into third-and-long and second-and-long, our athleticism will show up. But the big part is we have to show up in the right gaps consistently — everyone, all 11 guys doing their job. When one guy makes a mistake, it’s a big play. We have to eliminate that and do the right things over and over again.”

On building confidence stopping the run…
“It’s tough. The way you do it is you show them the plays where they did stop the run and say, ‘Look, if you do it right, you can stop it.’ You have to fit the right gap and be in the right spot. The way you gain confidence is you show the guys doing it right and say, “Hey, this is what it looks like when you do it right and do stop the run.’ Then you show them doing it wrong and it’s a big play. I think the guys understand that if all 11 guys do their job, then we have a chance. That’s the way you get confidence.”

On Arkansas QBs Austin Allen and Cole Kelley…
“I think you have to prepare for (Kelley) and then maybe find out later in the week if (Allen) is going to play. You have a lot of tape on Allen. (Kelley) is a bigger guy who can stand back there as a pocket passer. He’s maybe not as mobile as Allen but certainly is capable. But our focus has to be on stopping the run.”

On if Pellerin is competing for the starting job…
“Jordan (Ta’amu) will be the starter and Jason (Pellerin) will be the backup in case of injury. Jason will get all the second-team reps; Jordan will get all the first-team reps.”

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