Matt Luke Weekly Press Conference (With Video)

Luke Recaps Cal Game, Talks Bye Week

Ole Miss Football Head Coach Matt Luke met with the media Monday to recap the Cal game, and look ahead to bye week preparations.

Opening Statement…
“After reviewing the tape, I’m really disappointed in the self-inflicted penalties. Looking back at it, that was the telltale sign, especially on offense. Just too many self-inflicted penalties. Injury wise, Sean Rawlings has a very bad ankle sprain. He’s having surgery today on it to hopefully get him back a little quicker. A.J. Brown has a strained MCL, probably out one to two weeks. Markell Pack (needs) probably a week. Dawson Knox came out OK. Jordan Sims came out OK. On defense, Victor Evans is probably the only one with a significant injury. He sprained his MCL. He’s probably a week and a half, two weeks. We’ll let him rest on the open date. I think the open date is coming at a good time. We’ve got to get some guys back healthy, and we have to fix the issues we have with the penalties. I felt a lot of it was self-inflicted, and we can get those things corrected. That’s up to me and the coaching staff to get that better. Because if you take away the turnovers and penalties, I think you put yourself in position to win that football game. The good thing is, I think the mistakes are correctable. We’re going to use that open date to get healthy and get ourselves fixed. We’ve got some really talented players that will have a chance to compete with anybody in the country. I’m looking forward to the challenge moving forward.”

On the offensive line playing without Rawlings…
“After watching the tape, the biggest thing was the penalties and being behind. It wasn’t losing one-on-ones, it was more the self-inflicted stuff and the turnovers. You only have a certain amount of plays in the game. You can’t have wasted plays and penalties. The game’s hard enough as it is. You have to make sure that you’re clean. That was the biggest difference. Obviously, Sean has been in there and has some experience and it’s the first road game, and all those things. So I’m sure it played a little into it. But after watching the tape, the biggest thing was the penalties.”

On finding a balance offensively…
“I think that’s really important. I thought in the second half, we were a little bit on our heels. It’s important to me that we’re aggressive. You can’t play on your heels against Alabama. You have to focus on being aggressive and trying to dictate the tempo. I just thought in the second half, we got on our heels. Again, it goes back to the penalties and being behind the chains. I think it caused some of that. Correcting the self-inflicted stuff and removing the turnovers, I think you win the football game.”

On OL communication with Rawlings out…
“(That was) our first time going to a silent cadence. With Javon Patterson being in there some, that’s some stuff we have to get corrected. There shouldn’t be any communication with the silent cadence. We just have to get it cleaned up moving forward, and we will.”

On his first time coaching a close game late in the fourth quarter…
“I told the guys in the staff meeting, losing never even crossed my mind. In my mind, everything was going according to script and we were going to be 3-0 coming back getting ready to play Alabama, but it didn’t work out that way. I was disappointed in the fact that a lot of our mistakes were self-inflicted and things that we have to get corrected. I own that. The coaching staff owns that. Moving forward, that’s important that we get it cleaned up during this open date. I think this open date is coming at a good time. You look at the first quarter of your season, which is now over, we focus on what we have to get better at and we go get better at it. You have an unbelievable challenge going to play the best team in the country coming off that open date. And we’re excited and looking forward to that challenge.”

On Cal’s pressure on Shea Patterson in the second half…
“It was just more us playing on our heels, and they were able to pin their ears back and come after us. I think that was the biggest thing, and us getting behind the chains. You’ve got to get yourself in manageable down and distances and take advantage of the opportunities when they come, and we didn’t do that.”

On the tempo of the offense…
“I think we always want to go faster. Penalties slow you down. I think everyone felt that the rhythm wasn’t there. To be in tempo, you have to win first downs. You can’t get into a tempo if you’re 1st-and-15 and 2nd-and-12. You can’t do it. Your rhythm has to be there. First-and-10 plays are unbelievably important for a tempo team, they always has been. You have to win first downs; you have to be clean. The theme of it is self-inflicted penalties. You have to get those out of the game if you want to have a chance to win football games, especially going on the road on the SEC or Pac-12 or wherever you’re playing. You have to make sure you eliminate those things.”

On the timetable of Sean’s return and on Gary Wunderlich’s status…
“Gary I think will be fine. He just had a little bit of a tight hamstring, and it was really bothering him while he was kicking. So I think a week off, I think he should be fine. Sean, I don’t know. He’ll have the surgery today. He’ll probably start the running progression maybe at the end of this week. They’ve got to let the wound heal. He’s probably 50/50 for Alabama if I had to give you my best guess, but we’re not sure about that right now.”

On Brown’s status against Alabama…
“I don’t know that for sure. I think we’ll probably give him the open date to see how much he heals. Next Tuesday, I’ll have a better judge on that. I’m hopeful. I’d say that he’s probable, but we’ll have to see next Tuesday.”

On the defense’s improvement…
“I liked that they kept fighting. The turnovers put them in a tough spot early, and I think they got into the red zone in the first drive of the second half. But they bowed their neck, they got some turnovers. They were battling and competing all the way to the end of the game. So I really like to see that. I think it’s something to build off of. I was pleased with their effort. They were flying around and giving great effort. I thought we tackled better, so there are a lot of good things to build off of. There were a couple of things with our alignment where we didn’t get lined up a couple of times where we could be better. But I think it’s definitely something to build off of moving forward.’

On the defense’s performance on third downs…
“We wanted them to be aware of the chains and our alignment to take certain things away. A couple of times we were bringing pressure where we knew the ball was going to have to come out quick and we were maybe a little bit too far off. Just having a little down-and-distance awareness and knowing that, when you’re pressuring, the ball’s going to come out a little faster. Just being on the same page. It wasn’t bad, but with just a couple of minor adjustments, I think we could’ve been a lot better.”

On the depth on the offensive line…
“You can never have enough centers. Before practice, we’re snapping four and five every day. Javon (Patterson) was one of those. Now you’ve got Sean (Rawlings) and Eli Johnson down, but Jordan Sims is also snapping, Jack DeFoor is also snapping and Ben Brown has also snapped. Because of the experience, you’d lean more on Javon and Jordan just because they’ve been there and done it. We’ll work those two guys hard, but we’ll have Ben Brown and Jack DeFoor also ready as a third and fourth. You can never have enough because you never know what’s going to happen. But Jordan and Javon will take most of the reps this week in practice.”

On the team handling the first loss…
“They were disappointed. The thing they have to understand is that we have the ability to compete with anybody, but you can’t play that way and beat anybody. That’s what they have to know. I don’t think it’s a talent issue. It’s about us fixing the things and controlling the things we can control. That’s what good football teams do, and that’s what we have to do moving forward. In my tenure here, we’ve had some gut punches and some tough losses, and we’ve always bounced back. This group has a lot of pride, and I know that they’ll bounce back and they’ll be ready to go.”

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